Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

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Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

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5th millennium BC (around 7,000-6,000 years ago) Events 

This was a time of great development along with the spread of agriculture from Western Asia throughout Southern and Central Europe. Urban cultures in Mesopotamia and Anatolia flourished, developing the wheelCopper ornaments became more common, marking the beginning of the ChalcolithicAnimal husbandry spread throughout Eurasia, reaching ChinaWorld population grew slightly throughout the millennium, possibly from 5 to 7 million people. ref

Inventions, discoveries, introductions

Fertile Crescent

  • Ubaid culture around 8,500 – 5,800 tears ago in Mesopotamia, derives from Tell al-`Ubaid
  • Yumuktepe and Gözlükule cultures in south Anatolia/Turkeyref
  • 1. (Yumuktepe had 23 archaeological levels of occupation dating from ca 6300 BCE. In his book, Prehistoric Mersin, Garstang lists the tools unearthed in the excavations. The earliest tools are made of either stone or ceramic. Both agriculture and animal husbandry (sheep, cattle, goats, and pigs) were among the economic activities in Yumuktepe. In the layer which corresponds to roughly 4500 BCE, one of the earliest fortifications in human history exists. According to Isabella Caneva, during the chalcolithic age, an early copper blast furnace was in use in Yumuktepe. ref)
  • 2. (Gözlükule Höyüğü is located to the south of the Gülek Bosphorus, which passes through the Taurus Mountains in Çukurova (ancient Cilicia), located on the northeastern shore of the Mediterranean. The site Gözlü Kule is the ancient city of Tarsus, the Hittite Terussa or Tarsa dating to around 5,000 years ago, the with monumental buildings, houses, and Northern Syria characteristic potteries.
  • Towards 4,500 years ago, aligned houses and streets intersecting at right angles resemble those of the Minoans. Some destructions are observed from 4,400 years ago culminating in the construction of a fortified wall and the potteries and jewelry are similar to what has been found to Troy.
  • During 4,100 years ago, further destruction are observed. The characteristics of the occupants of the houses appear, again, be those of Syria. Under the Hittites (dated to around 3,600 – 3,178 years ago), Tarsus is a major town or even the regional capital. 65 seals or seals footprints, Hittite hieroglyphics, were found. Fragments of alabaster and lapis lazuli, gold work molds, and a statuette attest of the prosperity of the city. Many specialists think, on the base of these excavations, that Tarsus was a local capital. ref, ref)
  • The earliest representations of culture in Anatolia were Stone Age artifacts. The remnants of Bronze Age civilizations such as the HattianAkkadianAssyrian, and Hittite peoples provide us with many examples of the daily lives of its citizens and their trade. After the fall of the Hittites, the new states of Phrygia and Lydia stood strong on the western coast as Greek civilization began to flourish. They, and all the rest of Anatolia were relatively soon after incorporated into the Achaemenid Persian Empireref




Events around 7,000-6,000 years ago

Is gender inequality man-made?

People have long accepted that political power is man-made rather than god-given. But it’s been different for gender equality. History, religion, science, everything, in fact, have seemed to condemn feminism for being against the natural order. Are there examples of true gender equality in the history of mankind? And if so, how far do we have to go back?

Catalhöyük – aggressively egalitarian?

“It’s hard to get one’s 21st-century head around the Catalhöyük settlement, which existed from approximately 7500 – 5700 BCE or 9,520-7,720 years ago. Its early inhabitants lived at the dawn of agriculture. They had semi-domesticated animals and were learning to sow crops. Not only did women have the same diets as men and inhabit the same physical space, but there were no wider hierarchies in the community. Professor Ian Hodder explains, ‘there is no evidence of a big ceremonial center or a chiefly house. We see these houses that look like they could produce more and could become quite dominant but there seems to be a cap that stops them doing it.” ref

The Mother Goddess

“Catalhöyük has a special significance for anyone interested in women’s history. It is the lynchpin in the Mother Goddess argument. According to this theory, Stone Age society was matriarchal, peaceful, spiritual, and sexually uninhibited. Women were respected for their life-giving powers, and the feminine mysteries were worshipped. In the 1960s, the swashbuckling archaeologist James Mellaart found at Catalhöyük one of the most powerful representations ever made of female divinity. Known as the ‘Seated Woman of Catalhöyük’, or more popularly the ‘Mother Goddess’, it is a clay figurine of a corpulent woman sitting on a throne, flanked by two large leopards, who appears to be giving birth. As he continued his excavations Mellaart unearthed a treasury of female imagery and figurines.” ref

For Mellaart, and many others, this was the confirmation they sought for the Mother Goddess theory. Catalhöyük was proof that patriarchy was no more ‘natural’ than the pyramids. When Professor Hodder took over the site, it wasn’t his intention to be controversial. Nevertheless, his findings have been revolutionary. His team dug through 18 levels, covering about 1,200 years of uninterrupted habitation. They found no evidence to support the claim that Catalhöyük was a matriarchy or that female fertility was worshipped over and above that of phallic or animal spiritualism. But, Hodder insists, the question should never have been posed as an either-or issue. He argues that his team’s discoveries are so much more significant than anything previously imagined. Catalhöyük was a place were true gender equality flourished.” ref

“In ancient Sumer – now modern-day southern Iraq – women enjoyed the same privileges as men in both society and commerce. But when the Akkadian King Sargon conquered, and Sumer became a Vassall state, the outlook for women drastically changed.” ref

The patriarchy promoted by law

“When civilizations begin to write down their laws, this is when the patriarchy becomes enshrined. There is a phrase on the Enmetena and Urukagina cones – the earliest known law codes from circa 2400 BCE – that says “If a woman speaks out of turn, then her teeth will be smashed by a brick.” Later, the Code of Hammurabi (circa 1754 BCE) of ancient Mesopotamia proved a mixed blessing for women. The laws recognized the right for women to own property, while also forbidding arbitrary ill-treatment or neglect. In widowhood, wives were allowed to use their husband’s estates for their lifetime. However, the code was a blow to women’s sexual freedom. Husbands and fathers now owned the sexual reproduction of their wives and daughters. This meant that women could be put to death for adultery and that virginity was now a condition for marriage.” ref

The Veil

“Some of the starkest double standards exist within the Assyrian laws from the 12th century BCE. Husbands could abuse (and even pawn) their wives freely, with the only restriction being they couldn’t kill them without cause. Women in Assyria had no rights and many burdens. If they have an abortion they can be executed, if they commit adultery they can be executed. And if their husband commits a crime, they can be punished in his place.” ref

“Within these laws, there are the earliest examples of enforcing the veil, long before it was adopted by the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Christians, and Muslims. However, not all women are required to wear one. The laws specify that wives, daughters, and, indeed, concubines of the upper classes should not go outside uncovered. On the other hand, prostitutes were not entitled to wear the veil, and any man seeing a prostitute wear the veil is to arrest her and she will receive ’50 lashes with a bamboo cane’. If a slave-girl is seen to be wearing a veil, she too is to be arrested; in this case, her ears will be cut off and the man who arrested her may take her clothes.” ref

How the Gender Binary Limits Archaeological Study

“One case study demonstrates how contemporary assumptions about gender in ancient societies risk obscuring the larger picture.” ref

7,000-5,000 years ago, across Africa, Asia and Europe genetic diversity of male Y-DNA collapsed, to around one man to every 17 women. And the likely cause of this was fighting between patrilineal clans, world war 0.

“Around 7,000 years ago – all the way back in the Neolithic – something really peculiar happened to human genetic diversity. Over the next 2,000 years, and seen across Africa, Europe, and Asia, the genetic diversity of the Y chromosome collapsed, becoming as though there was only one man for every 17 women. Now, through computer modeling, researchers believe they have found the cause of this mysterious phenomenon: fighting between patrilineal clans. Drops in genetic diversity among humans are not unheard of, inferred based on genetic patterns in modern humans. But these usually affect entire populations, probably as the result of a disaster or other event that shrinks the population and therefore the gene pool.” ref

But the Neolithic Y-chromosome bottleneck, as it is known, has been something of a puzzle since its discovery in 2015. This is because it was only observed on the genes on the Y chromosome that get passed down from father to son – which means it only affected men. This points to a social, rather than an environmental, cause, and given the social restructures between 12,000 and 8,000 years ago as humans shifted to more agrarian cultures with patrilineal structures, this may have had something to do with it. In fact, a drop in genetic diversity doesn’t mean that there was necessarily a drop in population. The number of men could very well have stayed the same, while the pool of men who produced offspring declined.” ref

This was one of the scenarios proposed by the scientists who penned the 2015 paper. 

“Instead of ‘survival of the fittest’ in a biological sense, the accumulation of wealth and power may have increased the reproductive success of a limited number of ‘socially fit’ males and their sons,” computational biologist Melissa Wilson Sayres of Arizona State University explained at the time. Tian Chen Zeng, a sociologist at Stanford, has now built on this hypothesis. He and colleagues point out that, within a clan, women could have married into new clans, while men stayed with their own clans their entire lives. This would mean that, within the clan, Y chromosome variation is limited.” ref

“However, it doesn’t explain why there was so little variation between different clans. However, if skirmishes wiped out entire clans, that could have wiped out many male lineages – diminishing Y chromosome variance. Computer modeling have verified the plausibility of this scenario. Simulations showed that wars between patrilineal clans, where women moved around but men stayed in their own clans, had a drastic effect on Y chromosome diversity over time. It also showed that a social structure that allowed both men and women to move between clans would not have this effect on Y chromosome diversity, even if there was conflict between them.” ref

“This means that warring patrilineal clans are the most likely explanation, the researchers said. “Our proposal is supported by findings in archaeogenetics and anthropological theory,” the researchers wrote in their paper. “First, our proposal involves an episode in human prehistory when patrilineal descent groups were the socially salient and major unit of intergroup competition, bracketed on either side by periods when this was not the case,” This hypothesis is also supported by a finding in the European DNA samples – shallow coalescence of the Y chromosome, a feature that indicates high levels of relatedness between males.” ref

“Groups of males in European post-Neolithic agropastoralist cultures appear to descend patrilineally from a comparatively smaller number of progenitors when compared to hunter-gatherers, and this pattern is especially pronounced among pastoralists,” they explained. “Our hypothesis would predict that post-Neolithic societies, despite their larger population size, have difficulty retaining ancestral diversity of Y-chromosomes due to mechanisms that accelerate their genetic drift, which is certainly in accord with the data.” ref

“Interestingly, there were variations in the intensity of the bottleneck. It is less pronounced in East and Southeast Asian populations than in European, West, or South Asian populations. This could be because pastoral cultures were much more important in the latter regions. The team are excited to apply their methodology, which combines sociology, biology, and mathematics, to other cultures, to observe how kinship links and genetic variation between cultural groups correlates with political history.” ref

“An investigation into the patterns of uniparental variation among, for example, the Betsileo highlanders of Madagascar, who may have undergone an entry and an exit from the ‘bottleneck period’ very recently, could reveal phenomena relevant to such history,” the researchers wrote. “Cultural changes in political and social organization – phenomena that are unique to human beings – may extend their reach into patterns of genetic variation in ways yet to be discovered.” ref

The truth of 7300-Year-Old Violence Uncovered in the Spanish Pyrenees

“An examination of human remains found in a cave in the Spanish Pyrenees, that date to almost 7300 years ago has provided proof of the brutality of life in the Stone Age . It is believed that the remains are those of adults and children who were massacred. This Stone Age massacre is helping researchers to understand the nature of human violence and they believe it shows that we are ‘hardwired’ to be violent.” ref

“The remains were found in the Els Trocs cave in the Spanish mountain range, which is set in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Archaeologists have uncovered 13 skeletons, from three burials, and also evidence of material culture in the cave. Els Trocs was inhabited in three phases during the Neolithic period. Researchers focused on nine individuals “five adults and four children from the earliest occupation,” according to Real Clear Science . They are some 1000 years older than the other skeletons found in the cave.” ref

Neolithic Massacre in Spanish Pyrenees

“The remains were examined by a multidisciplinary team of experts, who also carbon-dated the skeletons. They made the gruesome discovery that it appears the “five adults and four children between the ages of three and seven were brutally murdered around 5300 BCE or 7,320 years ago,” reports Real Clear Science . They were the victims of a massacre. The team stated that “the violent events in Els Trocs are without parallel either in Spain or in the rest of Europe at that time,” according to Scientific Reports. It appears that they were shot with arrows, apart from one skeleton found in a perpendicular position. The researchers also stated in Scientific Reports, “the children and adults furthermore show traces of similar blunt violence to the skull and entire skeleton.” The victims of the massacre had been shot by arrows and hacked to death showing evidence of overkill.” ref

Stone Age Warfare

“Support for the view that these individuals were the victims of violence and even warfare comes from previous archaeological finds in the Iberian Peninsula. At another Stone Age settlement in Spain, a number of arrows were found, and at Les Dogues rock shelter a battle scene depicts acts of often horrifying violence and conflict. According to the Scientific Reports, the evidence of a massacre at Els Trocs “raises two fundamental questions: on the one hand about the assailants and the other hand the motive for such a seemingly uninhibited excess of violence.” There is little physical evidence indicating who were the perpetrators of the massacre. However, genetic testing has established that the dead were related to the first Neolithic farmers in the Iberian Peninsula. Based on the remote location, they were probably herders who engaged in transhumance.” ref

Motives for the Massacre

“It has been speculated that the killers of the individuals were either new migrants to the area or possibly a group that had maintained a traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle. A motive for the attack was “the terrain on which the violent events took place is a plateau offering manifold resources,” according to Scientific Reports. Quite simply the victims were killed by a group for control of the resources of the area by a new or previously settled group.” ref

“However, the brutality of the killings would indicate that there was another motive. Scientific Reports states that, “Els Trocs probably documents an early escalation of inter-group violence between people of conceivably different origins and worldviews, between natives and migrants or between economic or social rivals.” This massacre was possibly also prompted by tribal or xenophobic beliefs elated to a long-standing conflict between two groups.” ref

Talheim Death Pit

“The Talheim Death Pit (German: Massaker von Talheim), discovered in 1983, was a mass grave found in a Linear Pottery Culture settlement, also known as a Linearbandkeramik (LBK) culture. It dates back to about 5000 BCE or 7,000 years ago. The pit takes its name from its site in Talheim, Germany. The pit contained the remains of 34 bodies, and evidence points towards the first signs of organized violence in Early Neolithic Europe.” ref

Evidence of violence

Warfare is thought to have been more prevalent in primitive, ungoverned regions than in civilized states. The massacre at Talheim supports this idea by giving evidence of habitual warfare between Linearbandkeramik settlements. It is most likely that the violence occurred among LBK populations since the head wounds indicate the use of weapons from LBK cultures and all skeletons found to resemble those of LBK settlers.” ref

“The Talheim grave contained a total of 34 skeletons, consisting of 16 children, nine adult males, seven adult women, and two more adults of indeterminate sex. Several skeletons of this group exhibited signs of repeated and healed-over trauma, suggesting that violence was a habitual or routine aspect of the culture. Not all of the wounds, however, were healed at the time of death. All of the skeletons at Talheim showed signs of significant trauma that were likely the cause of death. Broken down into three categories, 18 skulls were marked with wounds indicating the sharp edge of adzes of the Linearbandkeramik or Linear Pottery culture (LBK); 14 skulls were similarly marked with wounds produced from the blunt edge of adzes, and 2–3 had wounds produced by arrows. The skeletons did not exhibit evidence of defensive wounds, indicating that the population was fleeing when it was killed.” ref

Reasons for violence

“Investigation of the Neolithic skeletons found in the Talheim death pit suggests that prehistoric men from neighboring tribes were prepared to fight and kill each other in order to capture and secure women. Researchers discovered that there were women among the immigrant skeletons, but within the local group of skeletons there were only men and children. They concluded that the absence of women among the local skeletons meant that they were regarded as somehow special, thus they were spared execution and captured instead. The capture of women may have indeed been the primary motive for the fierce conflict between the men. Other speculations as to the reasons for violence between settlements include vengeance, conflicts over land, resources, poaching, demonstration of superiority, and kidnapping slaves. Some of these theories related to the lack of resources are supported by the discovery that various LBK fortifications bordering indigenously inhabited areas appear to have not been in use for very long.” ref

Similar occurrences

Mass burial at Schletz-Asparn

“The mass grave near Schletz, part of Asparn an der Zaya, was located about 33 kilometres (roughly 20 miles) to the north of Vienna, Austria, and dates back about 7,500 years. Schletz, just like the Talheim death pit, is one of the earliest known sites in the archaeological record that shows proof of genocide in Early Neolithic Europe, among various LBK tribes. The site was not entirely excavated, but it is estimated that the entire ditch could contain up to 300 individuals. The remains of 67 people have been uncovered, all showing multiple points of trauma. Scientists have concluded that these people were also victims of genocide. Since the weapons used were characteristic of LBK peoples, the attackers are believed to be members of other LBK tribes. In similar proportions to those found at Talheim, fewer young women were found than men at Schletz. Because of this scarcity of young women among the dead, it is possible that other women of the defeated group were kidnapped by the attackers. The site was enclosed, or fortified, which serves as evidence of violent conflict among tribes and means that these fortifications were built as a form of defense against aggressors. The people who lived there had built two ditches to counter the menace of other LBK communities.” ref

Mass burial at Herxheim

Main article: Herxheim (archaeological site)

“Another Early Neolithic mass grave was found at Herxheim, near Landau in the Rhineland-Palatinate. The site, unlike the mass burials at Talheim and Schletz, serves as proof of ritual cannibalism rather than of the first signs of violence in Europe. Herxheim contained 173 skulls and skull-plates, and the scattered remains of at least 450 individuals. Two complete skeletons were found inside the inner ditch. The crania from these bodies were discovered at regular intervals in the two defensive ditches surrounding the site. After the victims were decapitated, their heads were either thrown into the ditch or placed on top of posts that later collapsed inside the ditch. The heads showed signs of trauma from axes and one other weapon. Moreover, the organized placing of the skulls suggests a recurrent ritual act, instead of a single instance. Herxheim also contained various high-quality pottery artifacts and animal bones associated with the human remains. Unlike the mass burial at Talheim, scientists have concluded that instead of being a fortification, Herxheim was an enclosed center for ritual.” ref

Mass burial at Schöneck-Kilianstädten

“This Neolithic mass grave, also in modern-day Germany, may exhibit signs of deliberate mutilation and/or torture. Skeletal analysis of the interred remains showed a remarkably high percentage of long bones (especially in the lower leg) which were broken around the time of the individuals’ deaths, which insinuates a deliberate targeting of these areas of the body, possibly as the victims were still alive.” ref

Herxheim (archaeological site)

“The archaeological site of Herxheim, located in the municipality of Herxheim in southwest Germany, was a ritual center and a mass grave formed by people of the Linear Pottery culture (LBK) culture in Neolithic Europe. The site is often compared to that of the Talheim Death Pit and Schletz-Asparn, but is quite different in nature. The site dates from between 5300 to 4950 BCE or 7,320-6,970 years ago.” ref


“Herxheim was discovered in 1996 on the site of a construction project when locals reported finds of bones, including human skulls. The excavation was considered a salvage or rescue dig, as parts of the site were destroyed by the construction.” ref


Main article: Linear Pottery culture

“The people at Herxheim were part of the LBK culture. Styles of LBK pottery, some of a high quality, were discovered at the site from local populations as well as from distant lands from the north and east, even as far as 500 kilometers (310 mi) away. Local flint, as well as flints from distant sources, were also found.” ref


“The structures at Herxheim suggested that of a large village spanning up to 6 hectares (15 acres) surrounded by a sequence of ovoid pits dug over a duration of several centuries. These pits eventually cut into one another, forming a triple, semi-circular enclosure ditch split into three sections. The way the pits were dug over such a length of time, in addition to their use, suggests a pre-determined layout. The structures within the enclosure eroded over time, and “yielded only a small number of settlement pits and a few graves”. These pits were either trapezoidal or triangular in nature.” ref

Mass grave

“The enclosure ditches around the settlement comprise at least 80 ovoid pits containing the remains of humans and animals, and material goods such as pottery (some rare and high-quality), bone and stone tools, and “rare decorative artifacts”. The remains of dogs, often found intact, were also recovered. The human remains were primarily shattered and dispersed within the pits, rarely intact or in anatomical position. Using a quantification process known as “minimum number of individuals” (MNI), researchers concluded that the site contained at least 500 individual humans ranging from newborns to the elderly. However, “since the area excavated corresponds to barely half the enclosure, we can assume that in fact more than 1000 individuals were involved”. The deposition of the human remains occurred only within the final 50 years of occupation at the site.” ref

Mortuary practices

“The people at Herxheim practiced a type of burial known as secondary burial, which consists of the removal of the corpse or partial corpse and subsequent placement elsewhere. This is evident due to the lack of complete, articulated skeletons in the majority of the burials. Another possibility is that of sky burial, in which the corpse is exposed to the elements and many bones are carried off by scavengers.” ref

“A 2006 study revealed the intentional breakage and cutting of various human elements, particularly skulls. Bones were broken with stone tools in a peri-mortem state, as is evident by the fragmentation patterns on the bones, which differ between fresh and dry (old) conditions. The conclusion reached from this study was that the site of Herxheim was a ritual mortuary center – a necropolis – where the remains of the dead were not just buried, but for reasons unknown, destroyed.” ref

“A 2009 study confirmed many findings from the 2006 study, but added new information. In just one pit deposit, this study found 1906 bones and bone fragments from at least 10 individuals ranging from newborns to adults. At least 359 individual skeletal elements were identified. This in-depth study revealed many more cut, impact, and bite marks made upon the skulls and post-cranial skeletal elements. It was apparent that parts of the humans’ bodies were singled out for their marrow content, suggesting cannibalization (see Hypotheses). Note that due to the fractures present on the bones being peri-mortem, the blows to the bones could have been made immediately prior (including as cause of) or soon after death. However, because of their precision placement, a peri-mortem “Cause of Death” is not likely, and rather the impacts were placed after the bone was defleshed.” ref

Skull cult practices

“Of particular note from both studies was the peculiar treatment of the humans’ skulls. Many skulls were treated in a similar manner: skulls were struck on “the sagittal line, splitting faces, mandibles, and skull caps into symmetrical halves”. A few skulls were clearly skinned prior to being struck, again, all in the same manner: “horizontal cuts above the orbits, vertical cuts along the sagittal suture, and oblique cuts in the parietals“. The vault of the skull was preserved and shaped into what is referred to as a calotte (calvarium). During this process, the brain, which is a source of dietary fat, may have been extracted. Additionally, a later study revealed that the tongues of humans were removed.” ref


“Due to the transportation of distant pottery and flint, it was the conclusion of the 2006 study that Herxheim served as a necropolis for the LBK people of the area. “The projection of the number of individuals present (…) to a probable total of 1,300 to 1,500 rules out the possibility of a local graveyard — and points a regional center at Herxheim to which human remains were transported for the purpose of reburial. (…) To organize the transport not only of stone tools and pottery but also of human bones and partial or maybe even complete corpses implies an efficient organizational and communication system.” ref

Ritual cannibalism

“Whether for religious purpose or war, it is apparent from the 2009 study that the humans at the site of Herxheim were butchered and eaten. Not only were cut marks found on locations of the skeleton that are made during the dismemberment and filleting process, bones were also crushed for the purposes of marrow extraction, and chewed. Besides the fresh-bone fractures present on many bones, “[processing] for marrow is also documented by the presence of scrape marks in the marrow cavity on two fragments.” Skeletal representation analysis revealed that many of the “spongy bone” elements – such as the spinal column, patella, ilium, and sternum – were underrepresented compared to what would be expected in a mass grave. “All these observations are similar to those observed in animal butchery.” Additionally, preferential chewing of the metapodials and hand phalanges “speak strongly in favor of human choice rather than more or less random action by carnivores”.” ref

“The number of people concerned at Herxheim obviously suggests that cannibalism for the simple purpose of survival is highly improbable, all the more so as the characteristics of the deposits show a standard, repetitive, and strongly ritualized practice”. Although a concrete conclusion has yet to be made, the archaeology does not rule out the possibility of deliberate travel to the complex with pottery, flint, and dead bodies (or partial bodies), with the intent to have the dead cannibalized and/or ritually destroyed. It also does not rule out the idea of human sacrifice. Other archeologists reject the cannibalism hypothesis, however, maintaining the evidence better fits a scenario in which the dead were reburied following dismemberment and removal of flesh from bones. “Evidence of ceremonial reburial practices has been reported for many ancient societies.” ref

The Verteba Cave: A Subterranean Sanctuary of the Cucuteni-Trypillia Culture in Western Ukraine

Abstract and Figures

“In Eneolithic Europe, the complexity of mortuary differentiation increased with the complexity of the society at large. Human remains from the Verteba Cave provide a unique opportunity to study the lives, deaths, and cultural practices of the Cucuteni-Trypillia culture in Western Ukraine. The subterranean sanctuary of Verteba was without a doubt a rallying point of both religious and social significance. Therefore, this investigation focuses on the role and character of ritual activities, the diversity and variety of religious orientations in the Eneolithic period, and the question of how and for what reason this particular cave was modified from a natural space to a sacred place. We also seek to clarify the research potential of the site in relation to highly developed and relatively wide-spread religion with direct implications for the Cucuteni-Trypillia social structure.” ref

Site location

“Situated atop a loess plateau, Verteba Cave is located approximately two kilometers southeast of the site of Ogród near Bilcze Złote village, Borshchiv district, Ternopil province, Ukraine. Set within Precambrian granites and gneisses, beneath Meso-zoic and Cenozoic deposits, Verteba Cave is situated in the Volhyni-an-Podolian Upland. The Podolian Upland is comprised of rich and thick loess topsoil. In the surrounding landscape, tributaries of the Dniester, owing from north to south, reveal a sequence of geological deposits discernible in the deep ravines.” ref

“One such tributary is the Seret River, with Bilcze Złote located on its eastern bank. The village is located on grey-leached loess soils. The climate is warm and temperate, but with greater temperature ranges between winter and summer than usual for Eastern Europe. Verteba Cave (Fig. 2) is found within a larger complex of gyp-sum caves in the karst region, incorporating various karst formations such as caves, sinkholes, and pits. This region stretches along the northern bank of the Dniester, over an area of ca. 8,000 km2. In congruence with many other gypsum caves near the Dniester, Verteba Cave was formed in the Neogene. During the Mio-cene, the whole area was under a shallow sea and therefore gypsums, up to 35 m thick, precipitated in the same epoch. The cave itself has a floor area of 23,000 m2 and a capacity of 47,000 m3, with the combined length of all the passageways inside the cave totaling 8 km.” ref

“A comprehensive chronological and taxonomic overview of the ceramic materials from Verteba Cave has been proposed by Taras Tkachuk, who has analyzed the entire available assemblage. Traces of settlement in Verteba Cave are represented by a specific chronological sequence: a) BZ WI, the oldest horizon, related to the Shipentsy group and dated to the late CI phase; b) BZ WII, related to the Koshilivtsy group and dated to the early CII phase; and c) BZ WIII, associated with the Kasperivtsy group and dated to the younger phase of the CII period. This was confirmed by the stratigraphic relationships, and in congruence with radiocarbon dating (3700–2700 BCE) of selected materials. Recent data and research reinforce the debate that the local populations maintained regular and frequent contacts with surrounding groups of the Trypillia culture as well as more remotely located Eneolithic cultures from Central Europe. Moreover, a modern understanding of the Verteba phenome-non includes the discussion regarding its cultic function. Vertebra Cave has long been interpreted as a refuge settlement. However, it has also been suggested that the cave may have had an undetermined cultic function – a theory that currently seems to be gaining popularity.” ref

The cultural background and Trypillian pottery from Verteba cave

“The sites in Bilcze Złote lie in a settlement area, which was densely populated by groups of the Triypillia culture, primarily settling on the Strypa, Seret and Zbruch Rivers, left-bank tributaries of the Dniester River. The oldest traces of human activity in the Verteba Cave come from the late CI phase and are associated with the Shipentsy group, living near the Badrazhy group on the Central Dniester Plateau (Fig. 3). In the following period, the beginning of phase CII, the cave was visited by members of the Koshilivtsy group, which developed simultaneously with the Branzeni group. In the final stage, dated to the late CII phase, the area was populated by the Kasperivtsy group, which coincided chronologically with the Gordineşti group. The largest portion of the ceramic material recovered from Bilcze Złote is related to the Verteba I assemblage (BZ WI). Stylistic and typological analysis of the assemblage has shown that the material is affiliated with the late phase of the Shipentsy group and dated to the close of the CI phase of the Trypillia culture.” ref

“The assemblage consists of almost 2500 painted ceramics and over 200 ceramic cooking vessels. In total, the Verteba I ceramic assemblage is comprised of twenty-seven vessels imported from the Badrazhy group of the Tripillian culture (ca. 1 % of the total volume of painted ceramics from the sites). Imported goods consist mainly of bowls of various shapes, including, e.g., S-shaped bowls, semispherical bowls, and conical bowls. Foreign items are also represented by nine fragments of large amphora-like vessels with round bodies, two vessels with high conical necks, and one crater. The Verteba I ceramic assemblage includes items clearly associated with Badrazhy pottery-making traditions, for example, a vessel with an image of a cow placed between elements of the Tangentenkreis-band pattern pottery of the Shipentsy group of the Trypillia culture at Verteba Cave in Bilcze Złote from phase WI. Moreover, on one large amphora-like vessel, these decorative elements are separated by S-shaped lines. Wavy stripes within the Tan-gentenkreisband pattern have often been recorded for Badrazhy ceramics, while they are entirely unfamiliar in the Shipentsy group (Tkachuk 2013, 38).” ref

“The Shipentsy ceramics from the late chronological phase are also decorated with other ornamental motifs, which are atypical for that group, and reassemble patterns used by the Badrazhy group. Among them we encounter: 1) vertical and oblique lines crossed by perpendicular strokes (on pyriform vessels or semispherical-conical vessels); 2) empty or filled in black circles with short lines; and 3) filled in red circles (Tkachuk 2013, 38). Among beakers belonging to the Verte-ba I assemblage, one fragment is particularly noteworthy. It is decorated with a metopic motif of horizontal half ovals combined with a stripe of red vertical lines. The stripe, having double oblique strokes at the base, is flanked by elongated vertical half ovals.” ref

“Such decorations have parallels in Petreny mugs found in Varvarovka III. Amongst the serving vessels in the Verteba I ceramic assemblage, one may distinguish a group of thin-walled vessels made of adobe clay, often tempered with crushed pottery (nearly a hundred items – comprising almost 4 % of the whole assemblage). The vessels are usually undecorated, occasionally with small handles pierced horizontally. Most fragments of large and medium vessels have the pro-portions of half-barrel-shaped vessels or vases; there are also a few handles preserved in this class. Semi-spherical bowls form the second largest group, whereas fragments of vessels with high, smooth cylindrical necks are even less frequent. These vessels may be viewed as imports, or alternatively, as local adaptations produced in the late phase of the Lublin-Volhynia culture (numerous half-barrel-shaped vessels) and the Bodrogkeresztúr culture (handled vessels).” ref

“The Verteba II ceramic assemblage from Bilcze Złote is comprised of nearly 800 painted vessels in various stages of preservation. They were all demonstrably related to the Koshilivtsy group from the early CII phase of the Trypillia culture. The Verteba II painted ceramics attributed to the Koshilivtsy group have some ornamental patterns which are not known from Koshili-vtsy traditions, e.g., long or short wavy lines recorded on eleven items in the assemblage. The lines, quite often doubled, have been found: 1) on rims; 2) between lenticular figures; 3) inside the vessels; 4) on the outer and inner walls of bowls; and 5) in the middle of stripes. Double wavy lines are characteristic of settlement assemblages of the Badrazhy population and of the Branzeni group in the CII phase of the Trypillia culture. Vessels produced by the Koshilivtsy group were influenced by the Branzeni group and therefore took on more rounded shapes with higher necks and slight mouths. Ornamental motifs used by the Koshilivtsy group are mainly represented by big, vertical lenticular figures linked to one another by diagonal stripes (some with hooks) and lenticular figures arranged in cruciform patterns on the inner surfaces of conical bowls. Less frequently, we encounter semi-spherical motifs also found in the Branzeni group.” ref

“The predominance of semi-spherical bowls, decorated on the inner and outer walls, is another typical feature of that group. The Verteba II assemblage includes thirty-six imports and vessels inspired by the Branzeni group, nearly 5 % of the painted ceramics in the assemblage. Only a small portion of the ceramic material from Verteba Cave may purport to the Kasperivtsy population from the last phase of the Tripillian culture (fragments of 68 vessels; the late CII phase). Unlike the vessels described so far, the Verteba III assemblage is dominated by ceramics mainly used for cooking. They constitute 72 % of the whole assemblage (49 items). The clay of these vessels is tempered mainly with crushed mollusk shells (25 vessels) or, less often, with an admixture of fire clay, grit, or sand. The Verteba III assemblage includes only 4 sherds of painted vessels, 7.3 % of the whole assemblage. Ceramics produced by the Kas-perivtsy group in the late CII phase of the Tripillian culture had complex characteristics. At that time, Trypillian decorative patterns were gradually influenced by the Funnel Beaker culture and, to a lesser degree, the Baden culture (Tkachuk 2013, 43).” ref

“Cord impressions on vessels with their rims obliquely cut o inwards are a typical feature of the Kasperivtsy group of the Trypillia culture in Verteba. Similar motifs can be found on Funnel Beaker pottery from SE Poland on sites such as Majdan Nowy and Tominy, site 12. This kind of decorative motif is associated and inspired by Anatolian traditions and the eastern Balkan cultural background (culture complexes Sitagroi Va-Radomir I-II-Yunacite XIII-IX traditions), as well as the cultural impact of the Pontic steppes. Decorative motifs of pottery found in Verteba Cave show a wide range of cultural links between this region and surrounding territories, including the Pontic zone, the Eastern Balkans, Anatolia, Volhynia, and Lesser Poland. The collection of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic plastic art (kept at the Archaeological Museum in Kraków) is comprised of 79 and 36 items, respectively. The analysis of these artifacts confirms the chronological timeline of Verteba Cave. There are no major differences to be found between the anthropomorphic and zoomorphic plastic art from Verteba and that of neighboring, contemporary settlements around Bilcze Złote.” ref

Ritual practice in Verteba Cave

“Neolithic populations are often argued to have had a complex burial program; combining rites such as primary burial, secondary burial, excarnation, and the ceremonial manipulation of bones. Archaeologists have interpreted these funerary rites either as expressions of territoriality, ideological masks of inequality, ethnicity  or ritual ways of creating relationships between the living, the dead and dwellings.” ref

“There has been surprisingly little osteological research to support this grand theoretical edifice, however, the discovery of disarticulated human remains in Verte-ba Cave provides a unique opportunity to study the lives, deaths, and cultural practices of the Tripillian culture. Osteological materials, curated at the Archaeological Museum in Kraków, derive from ear-ly excavations undertaken by Demetrykiewicz in 1898, 1904, and in 1906. Originally, the collection was comprised of probably 36 specimens (according to catalog numbers), however today it is represented by a minimum of 17 identifiable individuals. Nonetheless, the collection does include over 300 fully preserved large ceramic vessels (measuring ca. 1 m in height), 35,000 pottery sherds and fragments of vessels, 120 anthropomorphic idols, over 60 clay items of varied functions, ca. 200 bone tools, 300 stone tools, and implements as well as bone jewelry.” ref

“Some of these finds are of considerable archaeological value and importance, for instance, the spectacular ‘bull head’ palette with an engraved female figure, or a green hematite disk. Throughout the 19th century, dozens of clay idols of both genders have been discovered inside Verteba Cave. They were hanging from the ceiling or driven into the walls of the cave. These artifacts create the archaeological background and setting for cultural practices in this case. The full archaeological potential of this site remains to be realized. In recent years, until 2008, another 21 individuals were uncovered during excavations within the cave. It is likely that the volume of osteological remains will increase in the future. Tak-ing all this into consideration, the current study aims to investigate the materials using primary referents of mortuary variability: biological, cultural (pre-treatment of skulls, disposal modes), and location-al criteria. Skeletal remains from Verteba Cave can be divided into a few categories. Both human and animal remains exhibit similar levels of con-textual complexity. The vast majority of human bone is represented solely by crania and mandibles. Excluding two cases, a child and an unidentified adult (stored in Kraków), no other body parts were ever found. The deposition of crania, with or without mandibles, must be analyzed separately, as it may exhibit diversity with respect to the cultural phenomenon.” ref

“Today, all materials deriving from Verte-ba Cave are divided between museums in Kraków and Borshchiv, in more or less equal proportions, with the only difference being all child remains are stored in Poland. The excavated skulls form an unquantifiable sample of the de-ceased Tripillian population; the assemblage includes the remains of at least 5 (13 %) immature individuals and 33 adults (87 %; Fig. 12). All but 9 of the individuals were securely sexed, showing a much higher proportion of males (77 % adults) than females (23 % adults). The median age range for all adults is 35–45 years, there being little variation between the sexes. In an older collection, gathered by Demetrykiewicz, only two adult males were more than 40 years of age. There is a possibility of spatial separation based on the individual’s age and/or sex, creating a biased view of the dead population, al-though the remains appear to demonstrate a dispersed distribution.” ref

Brain removal and pigments

“The cultural practice of post-mortem brain removal has been recorded in 4 crania from Verteba. Specimens belong to 2 adult and 2 non-adult individuals. The recurring pattern covers four basic re-moval techniques: 1) brain tissue was extracted through the nose cavity; 2) through eye sockets; 3) through dilatation of the foramen magnum; and 4) through the large skull opening on the right or left side of the mainly temporal region (Fig. 13). The dilatation of the foramen magnum has been recorded in the cranium of an adult male (Verteba no. 21), which was additionally coated with red ochre pigments. A similar process was administered to cranium no. 15 (non-adult), where the brain was extracted through large openings in both the left and right temporal bones prior to the empty skull being covered with pigments.” ref

“Defleshing, including brain extraction via an opening in the temporal bones, and the use of ochre also reappear in cranium no. 18 (child, Infans I). Traseological evidence suggests that large stone hammers were used during the early stages of decomposition to open the skulls. Death separated the deceased from their social status. The period of preparing the dead for burial moved them into a transitional phase, when they were neither their past selves, nor yet what they would become. Such moments of ‘transition’ often involve uncertainty and potential danger. Some ceremonial acts or customs employed at the time of death in the Tripilllian culture seemed to encompass both ritual cleansing (defleshing) and apotropaic magic (red pigments). However, ritualization is a strategy of power, whereby status functions are collectively imposed on agents, objects, and events. Despite the fact that death rituals are essentially deceptive and manipulative, they employ characteristically eye-catching, costly, amplified, and stereotyped process-es and are prone to massive redundancy signals. Ritualized deesh-ing is also an embodied experience with the transformations of body surfaces playing a key role. Body painting and cosmetics are among the simplest forms of such transformational techniques.” ref

Excarnation and scalping

“Scalping and excarnation in the archaeological record are recognized by patterns of cut marks. Scalping marks occur on the cranium, as cuts or clusters of cuts, and typically form a rough circle around the superior aspect of the skull. At least two individuals from Verte-ba, an adult female (skull no. 4) and a child (Infants I, no. 18) have been subjected to such post-mortem treatment. The skull of the non-adult has been defleshed and subsequently covered with red pigments, indicating ritualistic cleansing. The incised marks were multiple, repetitive and of varying length, appearing to run vertically along the frontal bone. This leads to the conclusion that the manner of scalp re-moval was clearly different to that of the adult female. Marks attributed to scalping generally matched the exterior surface of the bone in color. If the scalper was skilled at the practice, no damage would occur to the underlying bone. While scalping was most often performed at death or the minutes preceding it, in some instances evidence indicates that the practice of scalping was also performed on living individuals.” ref

“If the removal of the scalp was not preceded by a circular incision outlining the perimeter of the scalp, the method was termed sabrage. In addition to the scalp, portions of the neck and face might also have been removed. This method involved making short, parallel cuts across the frontal bone, followed by short cuts around and behind one ear, then across the occipital bone near the nuchal crest and behind the other ear, and finally connecting the cut with the initial cuts on the victim’s frontal bone. It seems feasible that both defleshing and scalping in Eneolithic Ukraine were only performed with stone knives. Experiments on cadaver crania have elicited conclusive differences between cutting tools. In general, scalping cuts are not left on the cranial bones if the incisions of the soft tissues were made with metal knives. When stone implements were used, these tools often had irregular edges that left parallel incisions or cuts on the surface of the cranial bones. The two most likely behavioral interpretations of cut marks are scalping and ritual defleshing, however, scalping should be clearly separated from excarnation or defeating. The number, location, and placement of cuts can be used to distinguish between excarnated and scalped crania.” ref

“A greater number of cuts and cuts that are scattered across the frontal bone usually indicated a skull that was systematical defleshed, rather than scalped. The typical pattern of cuts on scalped skulls consists of fewer incisions, generally in clusters that form a distinctive circumferential configuration. Also, scalped frontals often show cuts that originate at the temporal line, extend to approximately halfway between the hairline and the brow ridges, and finally terminate at the opposite temporal line. Two contributing factors to the variation of scalping methods were cultural preference and the duration of time allotted for the removal of a trophy (Bueschgen/Case 1996). Ethnographic data indicates that scalping techniques utilized by different tribes were culturally transmitted behaviors passed down by each tribe’s ancestors. Scalping methods difiered in the amount of skin taken from the head, the number of scalps lifted from the same head, and the method of scalp removal. In both prehistoric and historic times, scalping by Native Americans was interpreted as a final insult or curse upon the victim.” ref

“The underlying idea of scalping was the desire to preserve a souvenir of the slain enemy, while simultaneously dishonoring his remains. Scalping, therefore, was a tangible symbol of physical and spiritual dominance. Among the Arikara tribes, for example, survival of scalping appeared to have strong cultural significance. In accordance with Ari-kara folklore, a male scalping survivor was forced into a solitary life outside of his village and had to stay hidden to avoid shocking or offending others. If scalped, only men were forced from their village. In the Northern American Plains and the South-West, burial patterns suggest that female scalping survivors were accepted back into their community and most often were buried with other members of their tribe. Re-burial practice Secondary mortuary practices, including re-burial and intention-al re-deposition of human remains, are relatively rare, especially in a prehistoric setting. The idea of re-interment is based on a certain set of cult practices and the intentionality of ritual cleansing procedures. A mortuary program, involving secondary disposal of the deceased, can be divided into two stages.” ref

“The initial phase of the treatment commenced with the death or imminent death of an individual and terminated with the initial disposal. The second stage was initiated by an event non-associated with the death of the person; it involved the removal of the deceased from the location of initial disposal, followed by either replacement in the initial disposal facility, or removal to a place of secondary disposal. Re-interment is probably among the most time-consuming religious practices in prehistory and it may take a few years to bury any given individual. Interestingly, this indicates, in turn, that in the Tripillian culture secondary body treatment was a socially sanctioned and approved method of handling the deceased. Ethnographic sources infer that tribal societies, which practice re-burial, usually demonstrate greater cognitive concern in connection with the bones. This may be communicated in the rich vocabulary used to describe the bones and/or decaying body; or it might form a key portion of the myths of the culture (Goodale 1985). The cranium of a reburied adult male individual discovered in Verteba Cave is shown in (Fig. 15). The bone surface in the frontal and parietal regions indicates plant rooting and scalping. It seems feasible that this male had been buried in a difierent location and his body was kept in the ground for at least two years prior to re-deposition in the cave. The knife marks suggest that some loose and partially decomposed fragments of tissue have been removed. His ‘cleansed’ skull was deposited in Verteba Cave as pars pro toto internment of the whole body.” ref

“Perimortem blunt force trauma In several cases of perimortem blunt force, injuries to the cranium have been recorded in Verteba assemblages. The morphology of these marks is a crucial factor that needs to be accurately described and accounted for in archaeological and forensic records. The evidence of violent death and the secondary treatment of the cadavers can be interpreted either as opportunistic votive burial, an actual sacrifice with a specific ritual pattern, or more traditionally, a deviant deposit in which the individuals were deprived of funerals and exposed to scavengers. Nasal septum deviation, probably caused by impact trauma, was found in the cranium belonging to an adult male (ca. 40 years of age, Verteba no. 19). This male had sustained a fracture to the inferior end of the nasal bone, slightly flattening and splaying both halves. The changes suggest a blow on the nose from directly in front of the individual, possibly accidental, but more likely deliberate, using a blunt implement. Moreover, the same individual sustained severe perimortem blunt force injury of the right eye (quite likely resulting from multiple blows). It is shown as a comminuted fracture to the left supraorbital margin with fracture lines measuring approx. 35 mm (mediolateral) x 22.5 mm (anteroposteriorly). Female skull no. 16 shows several distinctive marks of traumatic brain injury.” ref

“The occipital bone was crushed from behind by a large object, which left a circular depressed fracture to the parietal, probably in combination with a frontal fracture measuring ca. 9–10 mm. She died due to a severe brain-penetrating wound, caused by a high-velocity blow with a long and pointy implement from the back. In addition, two deep ante-mortem longitudinal grooves have been recorded on the parietal bone, presumably the marks of a stone hammer. Her nasal septum has been totally removed, probably post-mortem. Specific patterning of craniocerebral damage has been recognized in three male crania recently uncovered in Verteba Cave. In all 3 cases, we are dealing with a large sub-circular comminuted depressed fracture that penetrates the skull. The ectocranial margins are sharp. Bevelling along the endocranial margin indicates the central fragments were inwardly displaced. The direct primary impact caused intracranial hemorrhaging, cerebral contusions, lacerations, and deep brain hemorrhages. It may be asserted to a high degree of certainty that such a head injury would have been the sole cause of death. The full extent of the injuries suffered, however, cannot be precisely estimated due to a lack of other body parts. The discussed specimens have been compared with reference material deriving from medieval and Bronze Age warfare contexts.” ref

“Non-human biological agentsTaphonomic damage, specifically that created by rodent gnawing, root etching, and excavation damage, may also be misinterpreted as tool marks. Haglund et al. (1988) provide a brief account of forensic cases in which human remains were ravaged by carnivores. In his later publications, he distinguished rodents from carnivore damage. Excluding co-mingled human remains found in the cave, some attention should be paid to the causes and overall im-pact of non-human agents, such as rodent gnawing on Verteba cultural deposits. Three crania (curated in Kraków) show evidence of rodent activity, following similar patterns. In specimen no. 19, gnawing was recorded on the right temporal bone and supraorbital margin. Cranium no. 4 displays a comparable arrangement. Rodent activity affected the right supraorbital margin and the left side of the maxilla. Obvious traces of gnawing with deep marks have also been found on the right temporal bone along the superior temporal line (attachment of the temporalis muscle) of the same skull.” ref

“Due to specific alignments of gnaw marks, it seems credible to theorize that some parts of the skulls were deposited in the cave prior to any cleans-ing or processing. Some skulls were still covered with large parts of muscles, soft tissue, and possibly blood with mandibles present. Additionally, skull no. 19 shows a vestige of scalping as well. It seems possible that during ritual cleansing, mandibles were detached from the rest of the skull. Regular, at-bottomed groves indicate the presence of large rodents, possibly rats (Ratus ratus) in the cave. Like carnivores, rodents can move bones around, often carrying them over large distances to their dens, where they accumulate and modify them by chewing, which to some extent may explain the formation of co-mingled deposits of bone. In addition to displaying indicators of chewing by mammals, bones can be scarred by the action of feet. Trampling and polishing by the constant passage of carnivores in a lair may scratch and polish bone surfaces. Several skulls show randomly orientated superficial scratches and some bones in Verteba’s subterranean environment may have been relocated by animals.” ref


It should be highlighted that there are several larger karst caves in the Blicze Złote region. 

“However, traces of human occupation were only found in Verteba Cave. Regardless of this finding, the cave did not provide proper conditions for permanent inhabitancy per se. An obvious lack of an independent water source, poor ventilation, permanent darkness, and very dicult or near inaccessible entrances (steep funnel-like precipice), can be mentioned among few leading reasons. Nonetheless, the specific appearance of artifacts and a sig-nicant volume of selected human remains undoubtedly indicates the cultic function of this site. Data collected in this study evidently points towards a multidirectional exchange network amongst a few local populations. The simultaneous presence of imported goods and local wares suggests the significant trans-regional importance of the Verteba sanctuary and a long-distance network of connections. The same can be maintained about immaterial aspects of the Trypillian cult.” ref

“The study of mortuary practices reflects social phenomena. In order to assess the usefulness of mortuary data from Verteba for social modeling, two criteria are important: 1) the range of social information that can be derived from mortuary remains, and 2) the reliability of burial data as indicators of social phenomena. In the case of the Verteba subterranean sanctuary, mortuary rituals were more than ‘just’ a way of disposing of the dead. They provided a forum for remembrance and celebration of the deceased, for engaging with and potentially challenging cultural norms, and for integrating the social units in ways that can mimic, mask, or modify social relationships that exist in the non-ritual social structure.” ref

“While mortuary rituals are reproduced through acts of ritual performance and burial practices, each act offers opportunities to change the role of these rituals in society. Consequently, mortuary rituals could serve multiple roles that not only could but would change over time. The majority of Trypillian materials from the Verteba Cave indicate the presence of a highly developed eschatological vision of the afterlife and rites of passage. Mortuary rituals seem to combine ani-malistic beliefs and apotropaic magic. Nonetheless, certain evidence shows elements typical for warfare assemblages, trophy taking, or executions. In global terms, it can be hypothesized that Tripillian warfare grew out of a combination of economic and demographic variables. It emerged in association with some degree of territoriality and sedentism and with concentrations of resources.” ref

“The development of agriculture was probably not a necessary precondition for the onset of war, but it provides accommodating environments with-in which warfare could arise and spread. The level, intensity, and impact of warfare usually tend to increase as cultural systems become more complex, but in the case of Verteba Cave, this statement may be overrated. Assemblages of highly fragmented or extensively processed hu-man remains can derive from countless sources, including warfare, social control, cult, and preparation of the deceased. According to some authors, the overall context of Verteba’s skeletal assemblages can simply be seen as evidence of “trophy taking and cranial surgery and interpersonal violence” (Lillie et al. 2011). In fact, in this paper, we demonstrate that the complexity of Tripillian rituals goes way beyond that. All human remains recovered during archaeological prospects derive from the same location within the cave (Zawrat and the Great Hall). It seems feasible that ritual space was originally divided into sectors, with tools, ceramics, idols, and other artifacts being deposited in specific places. The practice of cult depositions probably lasted through centuries and involved more than one population inhabiting the region.” ref


Bilche-Zolote is a Ukrainian village located within the Borshchiv Raion (district) of the Ternopil Oblast (province), about 460 kilometers (290 mi) driving distance southwest of Kyiv, and about 16 km (9.9 mi) west of the district seat of Borshchiv. This rural community is located in a small valley adjacent to the Seret River, which is surrounded by plateaus covered with farms, broken by occasional stands of mixed forest. Bilche-Zolote is home to a remarkable park of 1,800 hectares (4,400 acres), of which 11 hectares (27 acres) is covered with virgin timber, including some trees up to 400 years old. Bilche-Zolote is also the location of the large gypsum karst Verteba Cave, as well as a significant Neolithic Cucuteni-Trypillian culture archaeological site, and attracts tourist and spelunker visitors from many countries.” ref

Vertebra and Priest’s Grotto Caves

“The Verteba Cave located on the outskirts of Bilche-Zolote village gets its name from the Ukrainian word for “crib”. Verteba is one of the largest caves in Europe, measuring 7.8 kilometers (4.8 mi) in length, with a total of 6000 cubic meters. It consists of maze-like passageways, often separated by thin walls, as well as broad galleries. The walls of the cave are smooth and dark, with rare incrustations of calcium carbonate appearing. There are also small stalactites, and unusual stalagmites that have the appearance of barrels, all of which are coated in an opaque watery liquid known as moonmilk.” ref

Cucuteni-Trypillian settlement

“During a mundane excavation on the Sapyehy estate in 1884, workers stumbled upon the buried ruins of a prehistoric settlement near the mouth of the Verteba cave. Over the years, more than 300 intact ceramic containers have been unearthed from the floor of the cave and this Neolithic era settlement, which encompasses a total of 8 hectares (20 acres). Archaeologists identified the artifacts as belonging to the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture, with evidence of two separate periods of settlement activity dating from 4440-4100 BCE and 3800-3300 BCE. The members of this society plowed their farms, raised livestock, hunted and fished, created textiles, and developed a beautiful and highly refined style of pottery with very intricate designs. Their settlements, which with up to 15,000 inhabitants were among the largest on earth at the time, were built in oval or circular layouts, with concentric rows of houses that were interconnected to form rings around the center of the community, where often a sanctuary building would be found. They left behind a large number of clay figurines, many of which are regarded as Mother goddess fetishes. For over 2500 years the culture flourished with no evidence left behind that would indicate they experienced warfare. However, at the beginning of the Bronze Age their culture disappeared, the reasons for which are still debated, but possibly as a result of invaders coming from the Steppes to the east.” ref

“Over the years there have been a number of major archaeological explorations of this site, starting with excavations from 1889-1891 by Edward Pawłowicz and Gotfryd Ossowski. In 1898 Włodzimierz Demetrykiewicz conducted an excavation and analysis. In 1952 and 1956 V. N. Eravets, I. E. Svyshnikov, and G. M. Vlasova resumed the exploration of the site, which had been neglected during the turbulent first half of the 20th Century. Recently, in 2000, M. Sohatskyy conducted further excavations of the site. The evidence from the discoveries revealed that there had been a gap between when the settlement was occupied. The more recent settlement yielded ceramic finds that connected it to the Shypynetsk group (Ukrainian: шипинецької групи), a sub-group of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture that flourished in this region during the later Neolithic.” ref

“Along with the intact ceramic containers unearthed in the cave, archaeologists have also found more than 35,000 clay fragments, including many of the famous Cucuteni-Trypillian goddess figurines, 200 pieces of bone and antler remains, and an additional 300 tools and other objects crafted from bone and stone, including flint implements, bone awls, and a few small copper artifacts. Perhaps most importantly, archaeologists discovered one of the few burial sites of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture at this site, amounting to almost 120 individuals. One of the most famous artifacts from the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture was found at Bilche-Zolote by the first team of archaeologists in the 1890s: a bone plate from about 3500 BCE. was found inside the Verteba cave, which was incised with a beautiful silhouette of a Mother goddess, and which became one of the most recognized symbols of this culture.” ref

“Beginning in 1907, a collection of the archaeological finds from the Bilche-Zolote Cucuteni-Trypillian settlement made up the core collection of the local archaeological museum, which was housed in the palace located on the grounds of the Landscape Park. During the period of Polish occupation, these materials were removed to the Museum of Archeology in Krakow. More recent finds from archaeological excavations have been housed in the Lviv Historical Museum and the Borshchiv Regional Museum of Local Lore.” ref

New AMS Dates for Verteba Cave and Stable Isotope Evidence of Human Diet in The Holocene Forest-Steppe, Ukraine


“Excavations at several locations in Verteba Cave have uncovered a large amount of human skeletal remains in association with faunal bones and Tripolye material culture. We aim to establish radiocarbon (14C) dates for eight sites and to evaluate whether these deposits are singular events, or slow accumulations over time. 14C measurements, along with stable carbon and nitrogen isotope data from human and faunal remains, were collected from 18 specimens. Stable isotope values were used to evaluate human and animal diet, and whether freshwater reservoir effects offset measured dates. We found diets of the sampled species had limited to no influence from freshwater resources. The human diet appears to be dominated by terrestrial plants and herbivores. Four new sites were identified as Eneolithic. Comparisons of dates from the top and bottom strata for two sites (7 and 20) reveal coeval dates, and we suggest that these deposits represent discrete events rather than slow continuous use. Lastly, we identified dates from the Mesolithic (8490±45 BP, 8765±30 BP), Iron Age (2505±20 BP), Slavic state era (1315±25 BP), and Medieval Period (585±15 BP), demonstrating periodic use of the cave by humans prior to and after the Eneolithic.” ref

Analysis of ancient human mitochondrial DNA from Verteba Cave, Ukraine: insights into the origins and expansions of the Late Neolithic-Chalcolithic Cututeni-Tripolye Culture



“The Eneolithic (~ 5,500 yrBP) site of Verteba Cave in Western Ukraine contains the largest collection of human skeletal remains associated with the archaeological Cucuteni-Tripolye Culture. Their subsistence economy is based largely on agro-pastoralism and had some of the largest and most dense settlement sites during the Middle Neolithic in all of Europe. To help understand the evolutionary history of the Tripolye people, we performed mtDNA analyses on ancient human remains excavated from several chambers within the cave.” ref


“Burials at Verteba Cave are largely commingled and secondary in nature. A total of 68 individual bone specimens were analyzed. Most of these specimens were found in association with well-defined Tripolye artifacts. We determined 28 mtDNA D-Loop (368 bp) sequences and defined 8 sequence types, belonging to haplogroups H, HV, W, K, and T. These results do not suggest continuity with local pre-Eneolithic peoples, but rather a complete population replacement. We constructed maximum parsimonious networks from the data and generated population genetic statistics. Nucleotide diversity (π) is low among all sequence types and our network analysis indicates highly similar mtDNA sequence types for samples in chamber G3. Using different sample sizes due to the uncertainly in the number of individuals (11, 28, or 15), we found Tajima’s D statistic to vary. When all sequence types are included (11 or 28), we do not find a trend for demographic expansion (negative but not significantly different from zero); however, when only samples from Site 7 (peak occupation) are included, we find a significantly negative value, indicative of demographic expansion.” ref


“Our results suggest individuals buried at Verteba Cave had overall low mtDNA diversity, most likely due to increased conflict among sedentary farmers and nomadic pastoralists to the East and North. Early Farmers tend to show demographic expansion. We find different signatures of demographic expansion for the Tripolye people that may be caused by the existing population structure or the spatiotemporal nature of ancient data. Regardless, peoples of the Tripolye Culture are more closely related to early European farmers and lack genetic continuity with Mesolithic hunter-gatherers or pre-Eneolithic groups in Ukraine.” ref

“The Chalcolithic, a name derived from the Greek: χαλκός khalkós, “copper” and from λίθος líthos, “stone” or Copper Age, also known as the Eneolithic or Aeneolithic (from Latin aeneus “of copper”) is an archaeological period which researchers now regard as part of the broader Neolithic. Earlier scholars defined it as a transitional period between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age. In the context of Eastern Europe, archaeologists often prefer the term “Eneolithic” to “Chalcolithic” or other alternatives.” ref

“In the Chalcolithic period, copper predominated in metalworking technology. Hence it was the period before it was discovered that by adding tin to copper one could create bronze, a metal alloy harder and stronger than either component. The archaeological site of Belovode, on Rudnik mountain in Serbia, has the worldwide oldest securely-dated evidence of copper smelting at high temperature, from c. 5000 BC (7000 BP). The transition from Copper Age to Bronze Age in Europe occurs between the late 5th and the late 3rd millennia BCE. In the Ancient Near East the Copper Age covered about the same period, beginning in the late 5th millennium BCE and lasting for about a millennium before it gave rise to the Early Bronze Age.” ref

7,020-6,020 years old

“The Durankulak Gold Treasure is a prehistoric gold treasure, Gold artifacts from the Durankulak Gold Treasure, from the second half of the 5th Millenium BCE is possibly the world’s oldest gold treasure, or at least one of the five or six prehistoric gold treasures claiming the title of being “the world’s oldest gold”, i.e. the world’s oldest gold treasure or artifacts processed or produced by humans – all of which have been discovered in Bulgaria.” ref


“Durankulak (Bulgarian: Дуранкулак [doˈrankoɫak]) is a village in northeastern Bulgaria, part of Shabla Municipality, Dobrich Province. Located in the historical region of Southern Dobruja, Durankulak is the north-easternmost inhabited place in Bulgaria and the northernmost village of the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, although the village itself is slightly inland. Durankulak lies north of the town of Shabla, with the only places to the north along the coast being the formerly exclusively Czechoslovak camping site Kosmos and the Kartalburun and Sivriburun headlands. Durankulak is also the name of the nearby border checkpoint on the Bulgarian-Romanian border; just north of the border is the Romanian seaside resort Vama Veche.” ref

“The Durankulak settlement commenced on a small island, approximately 7000 BCE, and lasted for thousand years. The first inhabitants were the Hamangia culture, dated from the middle of the 6th millennium to the middle of 5th millennium BCE, and were the first manifestation of the Neolithic life in Dobruzha. Hamangia people were small-scale cultivators and plant collectors who built houses, made pottery, herded and hunted animals. Around 4700/4600 BCE the stone architecture was already in general use and became a characteristic phenomenon that was unique in Europe. The settlement in Durankulak was a well-organized aggregation of buildings of substantial size with several rooms. They were coherently laid out according to a plan that was repeated over successive generations of house reconstructions.” ref

“Buildings were rectilinear and large, narrow paths separated individual houses, which stood alone or abutted by other buildings. The structures were robust and made of large wooden posts sunk into foundation trenches and joined together with wooden planks or branches covered with mud or clay. In all building horizons, except for in the earliest ones, buildings were internally divided into separate, mainly rectilinear, rooms. Stone structures and bases from the houses are well preserved and there is a cave and some cisterns to see. Durankulak is one of few monuments left from early farming societies in Europe and tell us about daily life. The excavation in Durankulak took part between 1974 and 1997 when 1204 prehistoric burials were carefully recorded and the remains of 17 houses were found.” ref

“The oldest village at this place was the small village of Kartalii to the northeast of modern Durankulak. It was abandoned in the middle of the 19th century and had around 200–300 residents, but its location meant the danger of malaria made it unsuitable for living in the summer. Some of the population of Kartalii founded Durankulak, which used to be an Ottoman farm inhabited by a few Bulgarians. The bulk of Durankulak’s residents were, however, settlers from the eastern Balkan Mountains who arrived in the early 19th century. After the Liberation of Bulgaria in 1878, it became part of the Principality of Bulgaria and, as the largest village in the region, was a municipal center of 12 villages. On 1 June 1900, the village was the center of an economic revolt against the government of Todor Ivanchov and as a result, 40 people (none of them locals) were killed by the national cavalry.” ref

“Between 1913 and 1940, it was under Romanian rule along with all of Southern Dobruja and was renamed to Răcari, but it was returned to Bulgaria according to the Treaty of Craiova. According to the terms of that treaty, the native Bulgarian population of Northern Dobruja was exchanged with the Romanian and Aromanian colonists sent in the south during the period of Romanian rule. As a result, some Northern Dobrujan Bulgarian refugees (преселци, preseltsi) settled in Durankulak. Most of them were from Nuntaşi not far from the Danube Delta and today form around half of the village’s population. From its return to Bulgaria to 1963, the village was known as Blatnitsa (Блатница, “marshy place”), but its historic name was reinstated to commemorate the revolt of 1900. The name is of ancient origin meaning the place where the Taurus knocked with his fist (hoof) and gushed water surrounded the two isles in the lake. It’s like a legend of the chosen land forever giving life and prosperity. The beliefs and golden ornamentations of Tauruses were found in Thracian tombs, Romans burial beliefs and in Varna Necropolis.” ref

“The freshwater Lake Durankulak is separated from the Black Sea by sand dunes and a beach strip, it has an area of around 4 square kilometers and features two islands in its western part, the Big Island (0.02 km2) and the Small Island (0.0053 km2). As the habitat of 260 rare and endangered species, the lake is one of the most important and well-preserved coastal wetlands in Bulgaria. The lake is also an archaeologically important area. Pithouses of the oldest known inhabitants of Dobruja, dating to 5100–4700 BCE, have been unearthed near the west shore, as well as 3500–3400 BCE mound burials and a Sarmatian necropolis from Late Antiquity. The Big Island of Lake Durankulak is particularly important, as it is the site of an Eneolithic settlement of 4600–4200 BCE, a cultural monument of national importance. The island also features a 1300–1200 BCE fortified settlement, a Hellenistic rock-hewn cave sanctuary of Cybele (3rd century BCE), and a Bulgar settlement from the 9th–10th century CE. Because of its age and importance, the archaeological complex has been dubbed the “Bulgarian Troy“.” ref

The Hemudu were believed to be Shamanistic or to me “Shamanistic Paganists” (polytheists). The Hemudu worshiped a sun & a fertility spirit, bird totems, afterlife & ghost belief as well as a clan burial ground.

Hemudu culture?

“The Hemudu culture (5500 BC to 3300 BCE or 7,520-5,320 years ago) was a Neolithic culture that flourished just south of the Hangzhou Bay in Jiangnan in modern Yuyao, Zhejiang, China. The culture may be divided into early and late phases, before and after 4000 BCE or 6,020 years ago respectively. The site at Hemudu, 22 km northwest of Ningbo, was discovered in 1973. Hemudu sites were also discovered at Tianluoshan in Yuyao city, and on the islands of Zhoushan. Hemudu people are said to have differed physically from inhabitants of the Yellow River sites to the north. Some authors propose that the Hemudu Culture was a source of the pre-Austronesian cultures.ref

Austronesian Religious Traditions

“The religious traditions of the Austronesian people focus mostly on ancestral spirits, nature spirits, and gods. It is basically a complex animistic religion. Mythologies vary by culture and geographical location but share common basic aspects such as ancestor worship, animism, shamanism, and the belief in a spirit world and powerful deities. There is also a great amount of shared mythology and a common belief in Mana.” ref

Hemudu Material culture

“Some scholars assert that the Hemudu culture co-existed with the Majiabang culture as two separate and distinct cultures, with cultural transmissions between the two. Other scholars group Hemudu in with Majiabang subtraditions. Two major floods caused the nearby Yaojiang River to change its course and inundated the soil with salt, forcing the people of Hemudu to abandon its settlements. The Hemudu people lived in long, stilt houses. Communal longhouses were also common in Hemudu sites, much like the ones found in modern-day Borneo. The Hemudu culture was one of the earliest cultures to cultivate rice. Recent excavations at the Hemudu period site of Tianluoshan has demonstrated rice was undergoing evolutionary changes recognized as domestication. Most of the artifacts discovered at Hemudu consist of animal bones, exemplified by hoes made of shoulder bones used for cultivating rice. The culture also produced lacquer wood. A red lacquer wood bowl at the Zhejiang Museum is dated to 4000-5000 BCE or 7,020-6,020 years ago. It is believed to be the earliest such object in the world.” ref

“The remains of various plants, including water caltrop, Nelumbo nucifera, acorns, melon, wild kiwifruit, blackberries, peach, the foxnut or Gorgon euryale, and bottle gourd, were found at Hemudu and Tianluoshan. The Hemudu people likely domesticated pigs but practiced extensive hunting of deer and some wild water buffalo. Fishing was also carried out on a large scale, with a particular focus on crucian carp. The practices of fishing and hunting are evidenced by the remains of bone harpoons and bows and arrowheads. Music instruments, such as bone whistles and wooden drums, were also found at Hemudu. Artifact design by Hemudu inhabitants bears many resemblances to those of Insular Southeast Asia. The culture produced a thick, porous pottery. This distinctive pottery was typically black and made with charcoal powder. Plant and geometric designs were commonly painted onto the pottery; the pottery was sometimes also cord-marked. The culture also produced carved jade ornaments, carved ivory artifacts, and small clay figurines.” ref

Hemudu Sociopolitical organization

“The early Hemudu period is considered the maternal clan phase. Descent is thought to have been matrilineal and the social status of children and women comparatively high. In the later periods, they gradually transitioned into patrilineal clans. During this period, the social status of men rose and descent was passed through the male line.” ref

The religion of the Hemudu peoples

“Hemudu’s inhabitants worshiped a sun spirit as well as a fertility spirit. They also enacted shamanistic rituals to the sun and believed in bird totems. A belief in an afterlife and ghosts is thought to have been widespread as well. People were buried with their heads facing east or northeast and most had no burial objects. Infants were buried in urn-casket-style burials, while children and adults received earth-level burials. They did not have a definite communal burial ground, for the most part, but a clan communal burial ground has been found from the later period. Two groups in separate parts of this burial ground are thought to be two intermarrying clans. There were noticeably more burial goods in this communal burial ground.” ref

Environment for the Hemudu peoples

“Fossilized amoeboids and pollen suggest that the Hemudu culture emerged and developed in the middle of the Holocene Climatic Optimum. A study of a sea-level highstand in the Ningshao Plain from 7000 to 5000 BP shows that there may have been stabilized lower sea levels at this time, followed by frequent flooding from 5000 to 3900 BP. The climate was said to be tropical to subtropical with high temperatures and much precipitation throughout the year.” ref

Austronesian peoples

“The Austronesian peoples, also sometimes referred to as the Austronesian-speaking peoples, are a large group of various peoples in Taiwan (collectively known as Taiwanese indigenous peoples), Maritime Southeast Asia, Oceania, and Madagascar that speak the Austronesian languages. The nations and territories predominantly populated by Austronesian-speaking peoples are sometimes known collectively as Austronesia.” ref

“Based on the current scientific consensus, they originate from a prehistoric seaborne migration from Taiwan, at around 3000 to 1500 BCE or 5,020-3,520 years ago, known as the Austronesian expansion. Austronesian reached the Philippines, specifically Batanes Islands at around 2200 BCE 4,220 years ago.” ref

*”They were the first people to invent maritime sailing technology (most notably catamarans, outrigger boats, lashed-lug boat building, and the crab claw sail) which enabled their rapid dispersal into the islands of the Indo-Pacific. They assimilated the earlier Paleolithic Negrito, Orang Asli, and the Australo-Melanesian Papuan populations in the islands at varying levels of admixture. In consequence, many of these populations share some common genetic element due to the Austronesian expansion.” ref

*”They also reached Australia, Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Japan, Madagascar, New Zealand, and Hawaii at their furthest extent, possibly also reaching the Americas.ref

“Aside from language, Austronesian peoples also share—to a varying degree—common cultural characteristics including widespread traditions and technologies like tattooing, stilt houses, jade carving, wetland agriculture, and various rock art motifs. They also share a common set of domesticated plants and animals that were carried along with the migrations, including rice, bananas, coconuts, breadfruit, Dioscorea yams, taro, paper mulberry, chickens, pigs, and dogs.” ref

“The broad consensus on Austronesian origins is the “two-layer model” where an original Paleolithic indigenous population in Island Southeast Asia were assimilated to varying degrees by incoming migrations of Neolithic Austronesian-speaking peoples from Taiwan and southern China from around 4,000 BP. Austronesians also mixed with other preexisting populations as well as later migrant populations among the islands they settled, resulting in further genetic input. The most notable are the Austroasiatic-speaking peoples in western Island Southeast Asia (peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, and Java); the Bantu peoples in Madagascar and the Comoros; as well as Japanese, Indian, Arab, and Han Chinese traders and migrants in the more recent centuries.” ref

“The Austronesian peoples, also sometimes referred to as the Austronesian-speaking peoples, are a large group of various peoples in Taiwan (collectively known as Taiwanese indigenous peoples), Maritime Southeast Asia, Oceania, and Madagascar that speak the Austronesian languages. The nations and territories predominantly populated by Austronesian-speaking peoples are sometimes known collectively as Austronesia. Based on the current scientific consensus, they originate from a prehistoric seaborne migration from Taiwan, at around 3000 to 1500 BCE, known as the Austronesian expansion.” ref

“Austronesian reached the Philippines, specifically Batanes Islands at around 2200 BCE. They were the first people to invent maritime sailing technology (most notably catamarans, outrigger boats, lashed-lug boat building, and the crab claw sail) which enabled their rapid dispersal into the islands of the Indo-Pacific. They assimilated the earlier Paleolithic Negrito, Orang Asli, and the Australo-Melanesian Papuan populations in the islands at varying levels of admixture. In consequence, many of these populations share some common genetic element due to the Austronesian expansion. They also reached Australia, Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Japan, Madagascar, New Zealand, and Hawaii at their furthest extent, possibly also reaching the Americas.” ref

“Aside from language, Austronesian peoples also share—to a varying degree—common cultural characteristics including widespread traditions and technologies like tattooing, stilt houses, jade carving, wetland agriculture, and various rock art motifs. They also share a common set of domesticated plants and animals that were carried along with the migrations, including rice, bananas, coconuts, breadfruit, Dioscorea yams, taro, paper mulberry, chickens, pigs, and dogs.” ref

Unique Neolithic Statue Carved from Granite

“A strange bird-like statuette from around 5,000 BCE has puzzled Greek archaeologists, who can’t explain what it depicts or what its origin is. The “7,000-year-old enigma,” as they have labeled it, is from the northern Greek regions of Thessaly or Macedonia, but even that is just a hypothesis for now. As Manteli told Reuters , “It could depict a human-like figure with a bird-like face, or a bird-like entity which has nothing to do with man but with the ideology and symbolism of the Neolithic society.” ref

“What perplexes things, even more, is the lack of a clear indication of sex. Experts wonder if that happened because of possible technical sculpting problems or the sculptor intentionally created the statuette as an asexual figure, while some archaeologists speculate that the sculptor might not have had the appropriate tools to give the figurine a more specific form. “Yes, it could be a pregnant figure but there are no breasts, used in Neolithic times to depict the female body. On the other hand, it lacks male organs so it is presented as an asexual figure,” Manteli said and added, “There are enigmatic aspects to it which make it charming.” ref

“The bird-like piece of art was carved from granite, even though experts suggest that no metal tools were used for its creation, as it dates from the Final Neolithic period. Despite not being particularly tall, the 14-inch (36-centimeter) figurine is bigger than most Neolithic statues found to date. It has a pointed nose, a long neck leading to a markedly round belly, and cylindrical legs. “Regarding technique and size, it is among the rare and unique works of the Neolithic period in Greece,” Katya Manteli, an archaeologist with the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, told Reuters.” ref

Ritual “Head Whacking” as part of a ceremonial act?

Club (weapon and ritual tool) 

“A club (also known as a cudgel, baton, bludgeon, truncheon, cosh, nightstick, or impact weapon) is among the simplest of all weapons: a short staff or stick, usually made of wood, wielded as a weapon since prehistoric times. There are several examples of blunt-force trauma caused by clubs in the past, including at the site of Nataruk in Turkana, Kenya, described as the scene of a prehistoric conflict between bands of hunter-gatherers 10,000 years ago. In popular culture, clubs are associated with some of the truly early cultures.” ref

“Most clubs are small enough to be swung with one hand, although larger clubs may require the use of two to be effective. Various specialized clubs are used in martial arts and other fields, including the law-enforcement baton. The military mace is a more sophisticated descendant of the club, typically made of metal and featuring a spiked, knobbed, or flanged head attached to a shaft. The wounds inflicted by a club are generally known as strike trauma or blunt-force trauma injuries.” ref

Though perhaps the simplest of all weapons, clubs come in many varieties, including:

· “Aklys – a club with an integrated leather thong, used to return it to the hand after snapping it at an opponent. Used by the legions of the Roman Empire.” ref

· “Ball club – These clubs were used by the Native Americans. There are two types; the stone ball clubs that were used mostly by early Plains, Plateau, and Southwest Native Indians, and the wooden ball clubs that the Huron and Iroquois tribes used. These consisted of a relatively free-moving head of rounded stone or wood attached to a wooden handle.” ref

· “Baseball, cricket, and T-ball bats – The baseball bat is often used as an improvised weapon, much like the pickaxe handle. In countries where baseball is not commonly played, baseball bats are often first thought of as weapons. Tee ball bats are also used in this manner. Their smaller size and lighter weight make the bat easier to handle in one hand than a baseball bat. Cricket bats are heavier and their flat shape and short handle make them unwieldy as weapons, but they are more commonly available than baseball bats in some countries.” ref

· “Baton or truncheon – forms used by law enforcement.” ref

· “Blackjack or cosh – a weighted club designed to stun the subject.” ref

· “Clava (full name clava mere okewa) – a traditional stone hand-club used by Mapuche Indians in Chile, featuring a long flat body. In Spanish, it is known as clava cefalomorfa. It has some ritual importance as a special sign of distinction carried by the tribal chief.” ref

· Cudgel – A stout stick carried by peasants during the Middle Ages. It functioned as a walking staff and a weapon for both self-defense and wartime. Clubmen revolted in several localities against the excesses of soldiers on both sides during the English Civil War. During the 18th-century singlestick fighting (a training sport for the use of the single handed backsword) was called single sticking, or cudgel-play.” ref

· “Gata – a Fijian war club.” ref

· “Gunstock war club – a war club stylized as the butt of a rifle.” ref

· “‘Jutte or jitte – a distinctive weapon of the samurai police consisting of an iron rod with a hook. It could parry and disarm a sword-wielding assailant without serious injury. Eventually, the jutte also came to be considered a symbol of official status.” ref

· “Kanabō (nyoibo, konsaibo, tetsubō, ararebo) – Various types of different-sized Japanese clubs made of wood and or iron, usually with iron spikes or studs. First used by the Samurai.” ref

· “Kanak war clubs – traditional weapons from New Caledonia.” ref

· Knobkerrie – a war club of southern and eastern Africa with a distinctive knob on the end

· “Kubotan – a short, thin, lightweight club often used by law enforcement officers, generally to apply pressure against selected points of the body in order to encourage compliance without inflicting injury.” ref

· “Leangle – an Australian Aboriginal fighting club with a hooked striking head, typically nearly at right angles to the weapon’s shaft. The name comes from Kulin languages such as Wemba-Wemba and Woiwurrung, based on the word lia (tooth).” ref

· “Lil Lil – An aboriginal club with boomerang-like aerodynamics. Can be thrown or handheld.” ref

· “Mace – a metal club with a heavy head on the end, designed to deliver very powerful blows. The head of a mace may also have small studs forged into it. The mace is often confused with the spiked morning star and the articulated flail.” ref

· “Mere – short, broad-bladed Māori club, usually made from nephrite jade and used for forward-striking thrusts.” ref

· “Morning star – a medieval club-like weapon consisting of a shaft with an attached ball adorned with one or more spikes.” ref

· “Nulla-nulla – a short, curved hardwood club, used as a hunting weapon and in tribal in-fighting, by the Aboriginal people of Australia.” ref

· “Nunchaku (also called nunchucks) – an Asian weapon consisting of two clubs, connected by a short rope, thong, or chain, and usually used with one club in hand and the other swung as a flail.” ref

· “Oslop [ru] – a two-handed, very heavy, often iron-shod, Russian club that was used as the cheapest and the most readily available infantry weapon.” ref

· “Paddle club – common in the Solomon Islands, these clubs could be used in warfare or for propelling a small dugout canoe.” ref

· “Pickaxe handle – the (usually wooden) haft of a pickaxe used as a club.” ref

· “Rungu (Swahili, plural marungu) – a wooden throwing club or baton bearing special symbolism and significance in certain East African tribal cultures. It is especially associated with Maasai morans (male warriors) who have traditionally used it in warfare and for hunting.” ref

· “Sali, a Fijian war club.” ref

· “Sally rod – a long, thin wooden stick, generally made from willow (Latin salix), and used chiefly in the past in Ireland as a disciplinary implement, but also sometimes used like a club (without the fencing-like technique of stick fighting) in fights and brawls. In Japan this type of stick is called the Hanbō meaning half-stick, and in FMA (Filipino martial arts) it is called the eskrima or escrima stick, often made from rattan.” ref

· “Shillelagh – a wooden club or cudgel, typically made from a stout knotty stick with a large knob on the end, that is associated with Ireland in folklore.” ref

· “Slapjack – a variation of the blackjack consisting of a longer strap which lets it be used like a flail, and can be used as a club or for trapping techniques as seen in the use of nunchaku and other flexible weapons.” ref

· “Supi – a war club of the Solomon Islands.” ref

· “Telescopic baton – a rigid baton capable of collapsing to a shorter length for greater portability and concealability.” ref

· “Tipstaff – a ceremonial rod used by a court officer of the same name.” ref

· “Tonfa or side-handle baton – a club of Okinawan origin featuring a second handle mounted perpendicular to the shaft.” ref

· “Totokia – a Fijian spiked club.” ref

· “Ula – traditional throwing club from Fiji.” ref

· “U’u – an exquisitely-carved ceremonial club from the Marquesan Islands, used as a chiefly status symbol.” ref

· “Waddy – a heavy hardwood club, used as a weapon for hunting and in tribal in-fighting, and also as a tool, by the Aboriginal people of Australia. The word waddy describes a club from New South Wales, but is also used generally by Australians to include other Aboriginal clubs, including the nulla nulla and leangle.” ref

Native American weaponry

“Native American weaponry was used by Native American warriors to hunt and to do battle with other Native American tribes and European colonizers. Native American weaponry can be grouped into five types of weapons: striking weapons, cutting weapons, piercing weapons, defensive weapons, and symbolic weapons.” ref

Striking weapons

“Native Americans used many variations of striking weapons. These weapons were mainly used for melee combat with other tribes. In some cases, these weapons were thrown for long-range attacks.” ref

· “Stone clubs were made from a stone attached to a wooden handle. There were also variations of stone clubs where tribes would carve the club out of a solid piece of stone. The most common stone types that were used for stone clubs were chert and flint. There are indications that most of these solid stone clubs were used for ceremonial purposes, instead of actual battle.” ref

· “Wooden clubs were commonly used by the woodland tribes. The clubs were carved from a solid piece of hardwood, like the wood from a mesquite, similarly to the stone clubs that were carved from a solid piece of stone. The earlier forms of wooden clubs were carved in the form of a ball at the end of a handle, but later forms were often sharpened, resembling a wooden sword. Some forms had a sharp stone shard driven into the end of the club, almost like an ax.” ref

· “The gunstock war club was mostly made from wood, but had a metal blade attached to the end of the club, like a spear point. The club was shaped like the stock of an 18th-century musket. The design of these gunstock clubs were directly influenced by the firearms that the European settlers used. Two popular theories for creating clubs in these shapes are that the Native Americans were impressed with how well the settlers used the ends of their firearms as striking weapons or they wanted to intimidate other tribes by giving the impression that they had firearms of their own.” ref

· “The war hatchet is very similar in design to a battle axe and was influenced by the axes that the European settlers used. The hatchet consisted of a sharpened blade, made from iron or stone, attached to the end of a handle.” ref

· “The pipe tomahawk was a type of war hatchet that was also a smoking pipe. Tomahawks were used for close combat like most striking weapons, but were also popular throwing weapons. The sharp edge was also used for skinning animals. With time, the pipe tomahawk became more ceremonial and was used more as a pipe than as a weapon.” ref

Cutting weapons

“Cutting weapons were used by the Native Americans for combat as well as hunting. They preferred shorter blades, and did not use long cutting weapons, like the swords that the Europeans used at the time.” ref

· “Knives were used as tools for hunting and other chores, like skinning animals. Knives consisted of a blade made of stone, bone, or deer antlers, fastened to a wooden handle. Later, Native American knives were also made from steel or iron, following the European settlers’ weapon-making influences. Some tribes had already figured out the use of copper and iron (or at least knew to use stone with high iron content) and could fashion weapons out of these.” ref

Piercing weapons

“Piercing weapons consisted of both short and long-range weapons. They were used for hunting and combat.” ref

· “Spears were used by the Native Americans to thrust and strike their enemies or the animals they were hunting. The spears were made of a short blade or tip, made from stone, and attached to the end of long wooden handle or shaft. Some variations did not even have a stone tip. Instead, the shaft was simply sharpened at one end. Spears could also be thrown as ranged weapons.” ref

· “Lances were very similar to spears, but were designed specifically for use on horseback. Lances had longer shafts and tips than spears. This gave the user further reach, allowing them to stab an enemy from the top of a horse.” ref

· “Atlatl, or spear-throwers, are long-range weapons that were used by Native Americans to throw spears, called darts, with power and accuracy. The Atlatl is made from a hollowed-out shaft with a cup at the end that holds a dart in place and propels it forward. The thrower’s throwing arm is extended, allowing for more leverage than throwing with the hand. This allows the dart to be thrown with more velocity.” ref

· “Bows and arrows were used by most cultures around the world at some point or another and are at least 8,000 years old. The arrow is created, similar to a spear, from a small blade (arrow tip) attached to the one end of a wooden shaft. Attached to the other end are feathers that help stabilize the arrow’s flight. Overall, an arrow is much smaller and lighter than a spear. The bow is made of wood (attempts have been made at the bone, but the bone has a low tensile strength and snaps easily when pressure is applied to the ends, “authentic bows” made of bone is a fairly common scam) string is made from either the dried, twisted, strung out, and twisted again intestines of animals or bundled horsehair, it is attached to each end of the wood.” ref

Defensive weapons

“Some Native American tribes carried shields into battle for extra protection. These shields were mostly made from leather stretched across a round wooden frame.” ref

· “War shields had the main purpose of stopping the smaller projectiles, such as arrows, and redirecting the larger projectiles such as spears. These shields were mostly carried by the men on horseback. These shields were made from buffalo neck leather, and often had more than one layer of leather over one another.” ref

Symbolic weapons

“Many of the weapons that the Native Americans used served a more symbolic purpose.” ref

· “Medicine shields look similar to war shields. However, the medicine shield’s purpose is to protect its carrier spiritually, rather than ward against physical attacks. Because these shields do not have to fend off physical attacks, they are built much thinner and lighter than the war shields. The medicine shields are often decorated by many symbols that represent the spiritual strength within the carrier.” ref


Artifacts From Across Mideast Found in 9,000-year-old City by Jerusalem

A vast city that may have had as many as 1,500 to 3,000 inhabitants in its heyday 9,000 years ago was part of a sprawling Neolithic network of barter. Fresh findings in the mega-site at Motza, the Jerusalem foothills, include an obsidian blade that came from Anatolia (Turkey); a simple but beautiful, thin-walled bowl made of serpentine stone, originating in northern Syria; and large alabaster beads made in ancient Egypt, archaeologists associated with the Israel Antiquities Authority revealed on Tuesday.” ref

Female hunters of the early Americas


“The sexual division of labor with females as gatherers and males as hunters is a major empirical regularity of hunter-gatherer ethnography, suggesting an ancestral behavioral pattern. We present an archeological discovery and meta-analysis that challenge the man-the-hunter hypothesis. Excavations at the Andean highland site of Wilamaya Patjxa reveal a 9000-year-old human burial (WMP6) associated with a hunting toolkit of stone projectile points and animal processing tools. Osteological, proteomic, and isotopic analyses indicate that this early hunter was a young adult female who subsisted on terrestrial plants and animals. Analysis of Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene burial practices throughout the Americas situate WMP6 as the earliest and most secure hunter burial in a sample that includes 10 other females in statistical parity with early male hunter burials. The findings are consistent with nongendered labor practices in which early hunter-gatherer females were big-game hunters.” ref

“Although burial treatment is complex and contingent, the objects that accompany people in death tend to be those that accompanied them in life. Scholars generally accept that projectile points associated with male burials are hunting tools, but have been less willing to concede that projectile points associated with female burials are hunting tools. WMP6 presents an unusually robust empirical test case for evaluating competing models of gendered subsistence labor. Although burial-associated projectile points can result from homicide, hunting accident, or stratigraphic mixing, the topological integrity of the WMP6 assemblage renders such interpretations unlikely. Projectile points can serve as knives, but it seems more likely that the backed knife and flakes in the WMP6 kit served that purpose.

“Error-prone osteological sex determinations can be spurious, but our coupling of osteology and amelogenin protein analysis renders such error highly unlikely. It is possible that the WMP6 burial represents a rare instance of a female hunter in a male-dominated subsistence field, but such an outlier explanation diminishes with the observation of 11 female burials in association with hunting tools from 10 Late Pleistocene or Early Holocene sites throughout the Americas, including Upward Sun River, Buhl, Gordon Creek, Ashworth Rockshelter, Sloan, Icehouse Bottom, Windover, Telarmachay, Wilamaya Patjxa, and Arroyo Seco 2. These results are consistent with a model of relatively undifferentiated subsistence labor among early populations in the Americas.

“Nonetheless, hunter-gatherer ethnography and contemporary hunting practices make clear that subsistence labor ultimately differentiated along sex lines, with females taking a role as gatherers or processors and males as hunters. Middle Holocene females and males at the Indian Knoll site in Kentucky were buried with atlatls in a respective ratio of 17:63, suggesting that big-game hunting was a male-biased activity at that time. Thirty percent of bifaces, including projectile points, are associated with females in a sample of 44 Late Holocene burials from seven sites in southern California. A similar trajectory may be observed in the European Paleolithic, where meat-heavy diets and the absence of plant-processing or hide-working tools among Middle Paleolithic Neandertals would seem to minimize the potential for sexually differentiated labor practices.

“Economies diversified in the Upper Paleolithic sometime after 48 ka, with increasing emphasis on plant processing and manufacturing of tailored clothing and hide tents creating new contexts for labor division. When and how such differentiated labor practices emerged from evidently undifferentiated ones require further exploration. Comparative analysis of burial associations with hunting tools and ground stone artifacts (55) in other times and places would be particularly valuable toward understanding how labor division evolved among hunter-gatherer societies.

“Scholars have long grappled with understanding the extent to which contemporary gender behavior existed in our species’ evolutionary past. A number of studies support the contention that modern gender constructs often do not reflect past ones. Dyble et al. show that both women and men in ethnographic hunter-gatherer societies govern residence decisions. The discovery of a Viking woman warrior further highlights uncritical assumptions about past gender roles. Theoretical insights suggest that the ecological conditions experienced by early hunter-gatherer populations would have favored big-game hunting economies with broad participation from both females and males. Such models align with epistemological critiques that reduce seemingly paradoxical tool associations to cultural or ethnographic biases. WMP6 and the sum of previous archaeological observations on early hunter-gatherer burials support this hypothesis, revealing that early females in the Americas were big-game hunters.” ref

7,000-Year-Old Horned Face Image Discovered Under Ancient Poland

Archaeologists excavating in the village of Biskupice, Poland have discovered a mysterious 7,000-year-old ceramic fragment depicting a horned face image. The team of archaeologists was excavating three ancient homesteads at a prehistoric settlement associated with the Linear Pottery Culture (abbreviated as LBK from the German: Linearbandkeramik). During their excavations, they discovered over 3,000 ancient artifacts including “cores” (stone blocks) used to strike stone flakes, obsidian chips that were used to make leather scrapers, wood and bone cutting tools, and sickle blades. However, the horned face image find was the most remarkable of all! Biskupice is a tiny village located in the administrative district of Gmina Biskupice, within Wieliczka County in southern Poland, about 11 miles (18 kilometers) south-east of the regional capital Kraków. And it was in this village of fewer than 100 inhabitants that the archaeologists set out to recover artifacts as part of a heritage rescue project before the planned construction of modern homes.” ref

“Project leader Dr. Magdalena Moskal-del Hoyo, from the W. Szafer Institute of Botany , told Science in Poland that the remains of the ancient artifact depict the “stylized outline of a human face with eyes and a nose, and two bumps on the forehead that are reminiscent of horns.” The professor added that this highly unusual artifact is probably related to “the sphere of the sacred.” Archaeologist Marta Korczyńska added that the curious ornament was likely part of a bigger vessel, perhaps a bowl. Dr Moskal-del Hoyo also stated that because of our poor understanding of early Polish cultures “we are unable to conclusively interpret this portrayal.” ref

“The LBK ceramic style is believed to have come from the Starčevo-Körös culture in present-day Serbia and Hungary. The earliest LBK ceramics, found on the middle Danube in the Starčevo range, date from about 5600–5400 BC. These pottery artifacts feature paintings of Balkanic cultures. As animal husbandry increased, the use of stone tools decreased, but according to Douglas Price’s 2000 book Europe’s First Farmers: an Introduction , 500 years before this transition, the post-Mesolithic LBK tool kit consisted of “flint and obsidian blades, and chopping sickles made by lining flint blades inside curved pieces of wood.” ref

A God Or Demon Of The “Sacred Sphere” From Where?

“There is no doubting Dr. Magdalena Moskal-del Hoyo’s claim that the horned face image belonged to “the sacred sphere,” but what does this meaning, exactly. It is known that the flints discovered were likely from an area in southern Poland, but the obsidian must have come from much further away. Researchers believe the obsidian was probably from the Bükk and Tatra mountains in the northern part of Hungary. Archaeologists have discovered evidence of 7000-year-old mining in these mountains, and they know manufactured cutting products were exported to other LBK cultures. So, the question remains: Where was the horned face image made?” ref

Is The Horned Face Image A God From Another Ancient Culture?

“While the identity of the god, demon or spirit depicted on the artifact cannot be identified, Professor Marek Nowak, from the Institute of Archaeology at Jagiellonian University in Kraków, told the Polish press that this type of artifact “is evidence that the inhabitants of the settlement had contact with people living in present-day Hungary and Slovakia” where similar ornamental motifs have been found from around the same time period. However, Nowak pointed out that these other artifacts “usually do not have stylized horns.” And, according to the archaeologist, this origin theory is supported by the discovery of obsidian (volcanic glass) tools found at the Biskupice site. Obsidian, or volcanic glass, is not native to Poland and therefore must have been imported.” ref

The Discovery Of An Unknown Foreign Deity Or Demon

“The horned face image, found on a ceramic shard, is about 4 inches (10 centimeters) long. The image has clearly defined eyes and a nose. It was found “stashed” with a collection of ceramics in a cavity under one of the longhouses. The archaeologists said the face instantly “stood out for its very unusual features.” ref

“Neolithic” and “Bronze Age”???

“The terms “Neolithic” and “Bronze Age” are culture-specific and are mostly limited to cultures of the Old World. Many populations of the New World remain in the Mesolithic cultural stage until European contact in the modern period.” ref

· “11,600 years ago (9,600 BCE): An abrupt period of global warming accelerates the glacial retreat; taken as the beginning of the Holocene geological epoch.” ref

· “11,600 years ago: Jericho has evidence of settlement dating back to 9,600 BC. Jericho was a popular camping ground for Natufian hunter-gatherer groups, who left a scattering of crescent microlith tools behind them.” ref

· “11,200–11,000 years ago: Meltwater pulse 1B, a sudden rise of sea level by 7.5 m (25 ft) within about 160 years.” ref

· “11,000 years ago (9,000 BC): Earliest date recorded for construction of temenoi ceremonial structures at Göbekli Tepe in southern Turkey, as possibly the oldest surviving proto-religious site on Earth.” ref

· “11,000 years ago (9,000 BCE): Giant short-faced bears and giant ground sloths go extinct. Equidae goes extinct in North America.” ref

· “11,000-8,000 years ago (9,000 to 7,000 BCE): the Ancestral Puebloans, in modern-day New Mexico and the Southwestern United States, began their Archaic–Early Basketmaker Era. Leading to art styles in pottery and basket making that are still used in the region. As well as early structures in the Pueblo architecture style, including some of those seen at Chaco Culture National Historical Park.” ref

· “10,500 years ago (8,500 BCE): Earliest supposed date for the domestication of cattle.” ref

· “10,000 years ago (8,000 BCE): The Quaternary extinction event, which has been ongoing since the mid-Pleistocene, concludes. Many of the ice age megafauna go extinct, including the megatherium, woolly rhinoceros, Irish elk, cave bear, cave lion, and the last of the sabre-toothed cats. The mammoth goes extinct in Eurasia and North America, but is preserved in small island populations until ~1650 BCE.” ref

· “10,800–9,000 years ago: Byblos appears to have been settled during the PPNB period, approximately 8800 to 7000 BC. Neolithic remains of some buildings can be observed at the site.” ref

· “10,000–8,000 years ago (8000 BC to 6000 BCE): The post-glacial sea level rise decelerates, slowing the submersion of landmasses that had taken place over the previous 10,000 years.” ref

· “10,000–9,000 years ago (8000 to 7000 BCE): In northern Mesopotamia, now northern Iraq, cultivation of barley and wheat begins. At first, they are used for beer, gruel, and soup, eventually for bread. In early agriculture at this time, the planting stick is used, but it is replaced by a primitive plow in subsequent centuries. Around this time, a round stone tower, now preserved to about 8.5 meters (28 ft) high and 8.5 meters (28 ft) in diameter is built in Jericho.” ref

· “10,000–5,000 years ago (8,000–3,000 BC) Identical ancestors point: sometime in this period lived the latest subgroup of human population consisting of those that were all common ancestors of all present-day humans, the rest having no present-day descendants.” ref

· “9,500–5,500 years ago: Neolithic Subpluvial in North Africa. The Sahara desert region supports a savanna-like environment. Lake Chad is larger than the current Caspian Sea. An African culture develops across the current Sahel region.” ref

· “9,500 years ago (7500 BCE): Çatalhöyük urban settlement founded in Anatolia. Earliest supposed date for the domestication of the cat.” ref

· “9,200 years ago: First human settlement in Amman, Jordan; ‘Ain Ghazal Neolithic settlement was built spanning over an area of 15 hectares (37 acres).” ref

· “9,000 years ago (7000 BC): Jiahu culture began in China.” ref

· “9,000 years ago: large first fish fermentation in southern Sweden.” ref

· “8,200–8,000 years ago: 8.2 kiloyear event: a sudden decrease of global temperatures, probably caused by the final collapse of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, which leads to drier conditions in East Africa and Mesopotamia.” ref

· “8,200–7,600 years ago (62005600 BCE): there was a sudden rise in sea level (Meltwater pulse 1C) by 6.5 m (21 ft) in less than 140 years; this concludes the early Holocene sea level rise and sea level remains largely stable throughout the Neolithic.” ref

· “8,000–5,000 years ago: (6000 BC3000 BCE) development of proto-writing in China, Southeast Europe (Vinca symbols), and West Asia (proto-literate cuneiform).” ref

· “8,000 years ago: Evidence of habitation at the current site of Aleppo dates to about c. 8,000 years ago, although excavations at Tell Qaramel, 25 kilometers (16 mi) north of the city show the area was inhabited about 13,000 years ago, Carbon-14 dating at Tell Ramad, on the outskirts of Damascus, suggests that the site may have been occupied since the second half of the seventh millennium BCE, possibly around 6300 BCE. However, evidence of settlement in the wider Barada basin dating back to 9000 BCE exists.” ref

· 7,500 years ago (5500 BCE): Copper smelting in evidence in Pločnik and other locations.” ref

· 7,200–6,000 years ago: 5200–4000 BCE:Għar Dalam phase on Malta. First farming settlements on the island.” ref

· 6300 or 6350 years ago: Akahoya eruption creates the Kikai Caldera and ends the earliest homogeneous Jomon culture in Japan. When the Jomon culture recovers, it shows regional differences.” ref

· 6,100–5,800 years ago: 4100–3800 BC: Żebbuġ phase. Malta.” ref

· “6,070–6,000 years ago (4050–4000 BCE): Trypillian build in Nebelivka (Ukraine) settlement which reached 15,000–18,000 inhabitants.” ref

· “6,500 years ago: The oldest known gold hoard deposited at Varna Necropolis, Bulgaria.” ref

· “6,000 years ago (4000 BCE): Civilizations develop in the Mesopotamia/Fertile Crescent region (around the location of modern-day Iraq). Earliest supposed dates for the domestication of the horse and for the domestication of the chicken, invention of the potter’s wheel.” ref

4th millennium BCE

Further information: 4th millennium BCE

· “5,800 years ago (3840 to 3800 BCE): The Post Track and Sweet Track causeways are constructed in the Somerset Levels.” ref

· “5,800 years ago (3800 BCE): Trypillian build in Talianki (Ukraine) settlement which reached 15,600–21,000 inhabitants.” ref

· “5,800–5,600 years ago: (3800–3600 BCE): Mġarr phase A short transitional period in Malta’s prehistory. It is characterized by pottery consisting of mainly curved lines.” ref

· “5,700 years ago (3800 to 3600 BCE): mass graves at Tell Brak in Syria.” ref

· “5,700 years ago (3700 BCE): Trypillian build in Maidanets (Ukraine) settlement which reached 12,000–46,000 inhabitants, and built three-story building.” ref

· “5,700 years ago (3700 to 3600 BCE): Minoan culture begins on Crete.” ref

· “5,600–5,200 years ago (3600–3200 BCE): Ġgantija phase on Malta. Characterized by a change in the way the prehistoric inhabitants of Malta lived.” ref

· “5,500 years ago (3600 to 3500 BCE): Uruk period in Sumer. The first evidence of mummification in Egypt.” ref

· “5,500 years ago: oldest known depiction of a wheeled vehicle (Bronocice pot, Funnelbeaker culture).” ref

· 5,500 years ago: Earliest conjectured date for the still-undeciphered Indus script.” ref

· “5,500 years ago: End of the African humid period possibly linked to the Piora Oscillation: a rapid and intense aridification event, which probably started the current Sahara Desert dry phase and a population increase in the Nile Valley due to migrations from nearby regions. It is also believed this event contributed to the end of the Ubaid period in Mesopotamia.” ref

· “5,300 years ago (3300 BC): Bronze Age begins in the Near East Newgrange is built in Ireland. Ness of Brodgar is built in Orkney Hakra Phase of the Indus Valley Civilisation begins in the Indian subcontinent.” ref

· 5,300–5,000 years ago (3300–3000 BCE): Saflieni phase in Maltese prehistory.” ref

3rd millennium BCE

Further information: 3rd millennium BCE

· “5,000 years ago (3000 BCE): Settlement of Skara Brae built in Orkney.” ref

· “4,600 years ago (2600 BCE): Writing is developed in Sumer and Egypt, triggering the beginning of recorded history.” ref

Post-historical prehistories

“For the prehistoric period in Sub-Saharan Africa and in the New World, see Sub-Saharan_Africa § Prehistory, pre-Columbian Americas, and prehistoric Australia.

· 3,800 years ago (1800 BCE): Currently undeciphered Minoan script (Linear A) and Cypro-Minoan script developed on Crete and Cyprus.

· 3,450 years ago (1450 BCE): Mycenean Greece, first deciphered writing in Europe

· 3,200 years ago (1200 BCE): Oracle bone script, first written records in Old Chinese

· 3,050–2,800 years ago (1050–800 BCE): Alphabetic writing; the Phoenician alphabet spreads around the Mediterranean

· 2,300 years ago (300 BCE): Maya writing, the only known full writing system developed in the Americas, emerges.

· 2,260 years ago (260 BCE): Earliest deciphered written records in South Asia (Middle Indo-Aryan)

· 1800s CE: Undeciphered Rongorongo script on Easter Island may mark the latest independent development of writing.” ref

“A cradle of civilization is a location where civilization is understood to have independently emerged. According to current thinking, there was no single “cradle” of civilization; instead, several cradles of civilization developed independently. Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Ancient India, and Ancient China are believed to be the earliest. The extent to which there was significant influence between the early civilizations of the Near East and those of East Asia (Far East) is disputed. Scholars accept the fact that the civilizations of Mesoamerica, those that mainly existed in modern-day Mexico, and the civilization in Norte Chico, a region in the north-central coastal region of Peru, emerged independently from those in the Old World.” ref

“Scholars have defined civilization by using various criteria such as the use of writing, cities, a class-based society, agriculture, animal husbandry, public buildings, metallurgy, and monumental architecture. The term cradle of civilization has frequently been applied to a variety of cultures and areas, in particular the Ancient Near Eastern Chalcolithic (Ubaid period) and Fertile Crescent, Ancient India, and Ancient China. It has also been applied to ancient Anatolia, the Levant, and Iranian plateau, and used to refer to culture predecessors—such as Ancient Greece as the predecessor of Western civilization.” ref

7,000-Year-Old Massacre: 9 Neolithic Outsiders Murdered with Blows to the Head

“About 7,000 years ago, the bodies of nine brutally murdered people were dumped into a mass grave on the edge of an ancient farming settlement. While their identities will never be known, one thing is certain: These nine individuals were interlopers — possibly failed raiders or POWs — who met violent ends, a new study finds. These people aren’t the only early Neolithic victims whose lives ended in violence. But several factors set this newfound burial — found during a construction project in Halberstadt, Germany, in 2013 — apart from other mass graves dating to the same period, the researchers said.” ref

“For starters, these victims weren’t local, but “outsiders with currently unknown origins,” said study lead researcher Christian Meyer, an archeologist who researched the burial while working at the State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology of Saxony-Anhalt, in Germany. [25 Grisly Archaeological Discoveries] The “outsider” discovery was made thanks to an analysis of certain isotopes (a variation of an element that has a different number of neutrons in its nucleus) in people’s bones and teeth that are determined by their diets. The analysis revealed that the victims in the mass grave had different isotopes in their remains compared with other people buried in the settlement, the researchers said.” ref

‘In addition, the newfound grave contained only adults — eight men and one woman — but no children, which is unusual for Neolithic mass graves, Meyer said. For instance, another early Neolithic mass grave in Germany, known as Schöneck-Kilianstädten, had 26 victims, which included 13 children and 11 men and two women, Live Science previously reported. Moreover, these young adults’ injuries clustered at the back of the head, meaning the victims were likely hit with “blunt force” from behind, Meyer said.” ref

“At other sites, where [other] chaotic massacres occurred, injuries are usually spread out over all areas of the skulls,” Meyer told Live Science in an email. “Some of the injuries [at Halberstadt] also appear quite similar in size and shape, so overall one can assume a rather controlled application of lethal violence.” He noted that during the early Neolithic, the Halberstadt settlement belonged to the Linearbandkeramik (LBK), the first farming culture in Central Europe that planted crops and raised livestock. The settlement also contained traces of six LBK longhouses and regular burials, most of which hold just one person and LBK artifacts.” ref

Linear Pottery culture

“The Linear Pottery culture is a major archaeological horizon of the European Neolithic, flourishing c. 5500–4500 BCE. It is abbreviated as LBK (from German: Linearbandkeramik), and is also known as the Linear Band Ware, Linear Ware, Linear Ceramics, or Incised Ware culture, and falls within the Danubian I culture of V. Gordon Childe. The densest evidence for the culture is on the middle Danube, the upper and middle Elbe, and the upper and middle Rhine. It represents a major event in the initial spread of agriculture in Europe. The pottery after which it was named consists of simple cups, bowls, vases, and jugs, without handles, but in a later phase with lugs or pierced lugs, bases, and necks.” ref

“Important sites include Nitra in Slovakia; Bylany in the Czech Republic; Langweiler and Zwenkau in Germany; Brunn am Gebirge in Austria; Elsloo, Sittard, Köln-Lindenthal, Aldenhoven, Flomborn, and Rixheim on the Rhine; Lautereck and Hienheim on the upper Danube; and Rössen and Sonderhausen on the middle Elbe. In 2019, two large Rondel complexes were discovered east of the Vistula River near Toruń in Poland.” ref

Two variants of the early Linear Pottery culture are recognized:

· “The Early or Western Linear Pottery Culture developed on the middle Danube, including western Hungary, and was carried down the Rhine, Elbe, Oder, and Vistula.” ref

· “The Eastern Linear Pottery Culture flourished in eastern Hungary.” ref

“Middle and late phases are also defined. In the middle phase, the Early Linear Pottery culture intruded upon the Bug-Dniester culture and began to manufacture musical note pottery. In the late phase, the Stroked Pottery culture moved down the Vistula and Elbe. A number of cultures ultimately replaced the Linear Pottery culture over its range, but without a one-to-one correspondence between its variants and the replacing cultures. The culture map, instead, is complex. Some of the successor cultures are the Hinkelstein, Großgartach, Rössen, Lengyel, Cucuteni-Trypillian, and Boian-Maritza cultures.” ref

7,000-year-old man, Span

“A 7,000-year-old man whose bones were left behind in a Spanish cave had the dark skin of an African, but the blue eyes of a Scandinavian. He was a hunter-gatherer who ate a low-starch diet and couldn’t digest milk well — which meshes with the lifestyle that predated the rise of agriculture. But his immune system was already starting to adapt to a new lifestyle. Researchers found all this out not from medical records, or from a study of the man’s actual skin or eyes, but from an analysis of the DNA extracted from his tooth.” ref

“The study, published online Sunday by the journal Nature, lays out what’s said to be the first recovered genome of a European hunter-gatherer from a transitional time known as the Mesolithic Period, which lasted from 10,000 to 5,000 years ago. It’s a time when the hunter-gatherer lifestyle was starting to give way to a more settled existence, with farms, livestock, and urban settlements. The remains of the Mesolithic male, dubbed La Braña 1, were found in 2006 in the La Braña-Arintero cave complex in northwest Spain. In the Nature paper, the researchers describe how they isolated the ancient DNA, sequenced the genome, and looked at key regions linked to physical traits — including lactose intolerance, starch digestion, and immune response.” ref

Brutal 6,200-Year-Old Massacre Shows Humans Have Sucked for a Really Long Time

“Dozens of savagely murdered individuals found buried in a Copper Age mass grave is shedding new light onto the lives of these early farmers—and the unspeakable violence they occasionally had to endure. New research published on Wednesday in PLOS One is the largest genetic study done to date of a prehistoric massacre. This killing of at least 41 individuals happened around 6,200 years ago in what is now Potočani, Croatia. The study, led by Mario Novak from the Institute for Anthropological Research in Croatia, shows that violence on such a large scale was present during this early time period, and as farming communities were becoming increasingly established across Europe.” ref

“Massacres are, sadly, a part of the human archaeological record, and apparently an inescapable part of the human condition. In 2019, scientists detailed a gruesome 5,000-year-old mass grave found in southern Poland that contained the remains of 15 murdered individuals, virtually all of them related. Similar massacres have been documented elsewhere in Germany and Austria, containing scenes similar to one documented in Potočani, in which “members of both sexes and all age groups are found indiscriminately killed and their remains unceremoniously disposed of in a pit or a trench,” Novak said in an email. In these cases, “different types of weapons and tools were used to kill a larger number of people, not in a face to face combat, but in a classic execution,” he added.” ref

Prehistoric massacre: the killing of at least 41 individuals happened around 6,200 years ago in what is now Potočani, Croatia.

The Neolithic–Copper Age transition on the Great Hungarian Plain


“The transition from the Neolithic period to the Copper Age in the northern Balkans and the Carpathian Basin was marked by significant changes in material culture, settlement layout and organization, and mortuary practices that indicate fundamental social transformations in the middle of the fifth millennium BC. Prior research into the Late Neolithic of the region focused almost exclusively on fortified ‘tell’ settlements. The Early Copper Age, by contrast, was known primarily from cemeteries such as the type site of Tiszapolgár-Basatanya. The multi-disciplinary research conducted by the Körös Regional Archaeological Project in southeastern Hungary from 2000–2007. Centered around two Early Copper Age Tiszapolgár culture villages in the Körös Region of the Great Hungarian Plain, Vésztő-Bikeri and Körösladány-Bikeri, our research incorporated excavation, surface collection, geophysical survey, and soil chemistry to investigate settlement layout and organization.” ref

“The results yielded the first extensive, systematically collected datasets from Early Copper Age settlements on the Great Hungarian Plain. The two adjacent villages at Bikeri, located only 70 m apart, were similar in size, and both were protected with fortifications. Relative and absolute dates demonstrate that they were occupied sequentially during the Early Copper Age, from ca. 4600–4200 cal BCE. The excavated assemblages from the sites are strikingly similar, suggesting that both were occupied by the same community. This process of settlement relocation after only a few generations breaks from the longer-lasting settlement pattern that are typical of the Late Neolithic, but other aspects of the villages continue traditions that were established during the preceding period, including the construction of enclosure systems and longhouses.” ref

6,000-year-old gold archaeological finds in Hungary

“Archaeologists at the Herman Ottó Museum in Miskolc have discovered unusual objects during the excavation of a cemetery from the Copper Age. Archaeologists have been working in the area of

the Bükkábrány lignite mine where 7-million-year-old trees were found. The excellent geographical features of the region have favored the settlement of people for thousands of years. The former settlements and cemeteries of many archeological periods have already been excavated here, including the most recent 34-grave cemetery, which included special treasures from four tombs.” ref

“The cemetery belonged to the Copper Age, and the inhabitants of the area are thought by specialists to be from the Bodrogkeresztúr culture. No written documentation has been found, only objects these people may have used. This community from around BCE 4,000 already used copper tools and was among the first to wear gold jewelry in the Carpathian Basin. More than a dozen gold objects were found in the three women’s tombs excavated in the area of

the Bükkábrány mine, primarily pendants, which may once have been part of a headdress. These are among the most beautiful specimens known to date due to their design.” ref

“A unique feature of the recently unearthed cemetery is that one tomb of a prestigious man contained no gold objects; it did have a cracked stone blade, a polished stone ax, and a 2-pound copper pick. He may have used the last as a kind of scepter rather than as an actual tool. These four tombs show the wealth of distinguished individuals in the community. The objects must have held a high prestige value, as gold was still a rarity. Some of the discovered gold objects were presented by archaeologist Attila Németh on the YouTube channel of the archaeological museum.” ref

Bodrogkeresztúr culture

“The Bodrogkeresztúr culture was a middle Copper Age culture that flourished in Hungary from 4000 to 3600 BCE. The Bodrogkeresztúr culture is best known for its seventy cemeteries. Which shows clear genetic links with the preceding Tiszapolgár culture. Bodrogkeresztúr cemeteries make clear distinctions between males and females, who are buried on their right and left sides respectively. Both sexes are buried with their heads oriented towards the east. Burials contain pittery, stone and copper implements, and copper and gold ornaments. The Bodrogkeresztúr appears to have practiced mixed agriculture and stockbreeding. Although primarily raising cattle, they appear to have raised sheep, goats, and pigs as well. Wild fauna in their territories included aurochs, red deer, wild boar, roe deer, and hare.” ref

“Bodrogkeresztúr ceramics are similar to those of the preceding Tiszapolgár culture, although a new form” referred to as the “milk jug” appears to have been introduced at this time. Flint and stone tools, copper and gold objects, ornaments, and various implements are also inherited from the Tiszapolgár culture, although these objects appear at increasing frequency among the Bodrogkeresztúr culture. The Bodrogkeresztúr people appear to have been living in communities composed of 15-20 closely related people. They appear to have been less patriarchal and more egalitarian than people of the preceding Tiszapolgár culture. The physical type of the Bodrogkeresztúr people was of the Mediterranean type, and is contrasted with the “Proto-Europoid” type prevalent on the Eurasian Steppe.” ref

“In accordance with the Kurgan hypothesis, the Bodrogkeresztúr people are considered an “Indo-Europeanized” native culture whose structure was altered by invasions of Indo-European peoples from the east. Others have suggested that the Bodrogkeresztúr was natively Indo-European, and that it, along with the Sălcuţa culture of neighboring Bulgaria, migrated southwards and became the Proto-Greeks.” ref

Tiszapolgár culture

“The Tiszapolgár culture or Tiszapolgár-Româneşti culture (3300–3100 BCE) was an Eneolithic archaeological culture of the Great Hungarian Plain, the Banat, Eastern Slovakia, and Ukrainian Zakarpattia Oblast in Central Europe. The type site Tiszapolgár-Basatanya is a locality in northeastern Hungary (Polgár). It is a continuation of the earlier Neolithic Tisza culture. The type site Româneşti is in the Româneşti-Tomeşti locality, Timiș County, Romania.” ref

“Most of the information about the Tiszapolgár culture comes from cemeteries; over 150 individual graves have been being excavated at Tiszapolgár-Basatanya. The pottery is unpainted, but often polished and frequently decorated. In a 2017 genetic study published in Nature, the remains of five individuals ascribed to the Tiszapolgár culture was analyzed. Of the five samples of Y-DNA extracted, three belonged to G2a2b and a subclade of it, and two belonged to I2a and a subclade of it. Of the five samples of mtDNA extracted, three belonged to T21c, one belonged to H26, and one belonged to H1.” ref

Bodrogkeresztúr Culture

Local Hungarian culture of the middle Copper Age (early 3rd-millennium BCE) that succeeded the Tiszapolgár Culture. There is marked continuity between the two cultures in their settlements and cemeteries. Cattle played an important role in the domestic economy. Copper tools of the period include shaft‐hole ax-adzes, chisels, and awls. Plain wares predominate in funerary deposits in contrast to domestic sites, which yield pottery decorated in ‘stab‐and‐drag’ (Furchenstich) technique, with chequerboard and hatched patterns filled with white paste. Succeeded by the Baden Culture.” ref

Tisza culture

“The Tisza culture is a Neolithic archaeological culture of the Alföld plain in modern-day Hungary, Western Romania, Eastern Slovakia, and Ukrainian Zakarpattia Oblast in Central Europe. The culture is dated to the 5th and 4th millennia BCE. In a 2017 genetic study published in Nature, the remains of five individuals ascribed to the Tisza culture was analyzed. Of the three samples of Y-DNA extracted, one belonged to I2a1, one belonged to I, and one belonged to G2. I2a2a, and one belonged to H. mtDNA extracted were various subclades of U, H, T and K.” ref

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

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Mystery of the Varna Gold: What Caused These Ancient Societies to Disappear?

“Treasure found in prehistoric graves in Bulgaria is the first evidence of social hierarchy, but no one knows what caused the civilization’s decline In the Varna Museum of Archaeology, a three-story former girls’ school built of limestone and brick in the 19th century. Its collections span millennia, from the tools of Stone Age farmers who first settled this seacoast near the mouth of the Danube to the statues and inscriptions of its prosperous days as a Roman port. But I’ve come for something specific, something that has made Varna known among archaeologists the world over. I’m here for the gold.” ref

“Slavchev ushers me up a flight of worn stone stairs and into a dimly lit hall lined with glass display cases. At first, I’m not sure where to look. There’s gold everywhere—11 pounds in all, representing most of the 13 pounds that were excavated between 1972 and 1991 from a single lakeside cemetery just a few miles from where we’re standing. There are pendants and bracelets, flat breastplates and tiny beads, stylized bulls, and a sleek headpiece. Tucked away in a corner, there’s a broad, shallow clay bowl painted in zigzag stripes of gold dust and black, charcoal-based paint. By weight, the gold in this room is worth about $181,000. But its artistic and scientific value is beyond calculation: The “Varna gold,” as it’s known among archaeologists, has upended long-held notions about prehistoric societies. According to radiocarbon dating, the artifacts from the cemetery are 6,500 years old, meaning they were created only a few centuries after the first migrant farmers moved into Europe. Yet archaeologists found the riches in just a handful of graves, making them the first evidence of social hierarchies in the historical record.” ref

“Slavchev leads me to the center of the room, where a grave has been carefully recreated. Though the skeleton inside is plastic, the original gold artifacts have been placed exactly as they were found when archaeologists uncovered the original remains. Laid out on his back, the long-dead man in grave 43 was adorned with gold bangles, necklaces made from gold beads, heavy gold pendants, and delicate, pierced gold disks that once hung from his clothes.” ref

“In the museum display, his hands are folded over his chest, clutching a polished ax with a gold-wrapped handle like a scepter; another ax lies just beneath. There’s a flint “sword” 16 inches long at his side and a gold penis sheath lying nearby. “He has everything—armor, weapons, wealth,” Slavchev says, smiling. “Even the penises of these people were gold.” Since he started working at the museum in 2001, Slavchev has spent much of his time considering the implications of the Varna gold. His long black hair, shot through with gray, is pulled back in a tight ponytail; his office on the top floor of the museum, where he serves as curator of prehistoric archaeology, is painted green and filled with books about the region’s prehistory. A small window lets in a bit of light and the sound of seagulls.” ref

“Slavchev tells me that just a few decades ago, most archaeologists thought that the Copper Age people living around the mouth of the Danube organized themselves in very simple, small groups. An influential 1974 book called Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe: Myths and Cult Images, by archaeologist Marija Gimbutas, went even further. Based on feminine figurines made of bone and clay found in Copper Age settlements along the lower Danube, she argued that the societies of “Old Europe” were run by women. The people of “Old Europe” were “agricultural and sedentary, egalitarian and peaceful,” Gimbutas wrote. Her vision of a prehistoric feminist paradise was compelling, especially to a generation of scholars coming of age in the 1960s and ’70s. Since he started working at the museum in 2001, Slavchev has spent much of his time considering the implications of the Varna gold. His long black hair, shot through with gray, is pulled back in a tight ponytail; his office on the top floor of the museum, where he serves as curator of prehistoric archaeology, is painted green and filled with books about the region’s prehistory. A small window lets in a bit of light and the sound of seagulls.” ref

“Slavchev tells me that just a few decades ago, most archaeologists thought that the Copper Age people living around the mouth of the Danube organized themselves in very simple, small groups. An influential 1974 book called Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe: Myths and Cult Images, by archaeologist Marija Gimbutas, went even further. Based on feminine figurines made of bone and clay found in Copper Age settlements along the lower Danube, she argued that the societies of “Old Europe” were run by women. The people of “Old Europe” were “agricultural and sedentary, egalitarian and peaceful,” Gimbutas wrote. Her vision of a prehistoric feminist paradise was compelling, especially to a generation of scholars coming of age in the 1960s and ’70s.” ref

“A restorer from the Varna Museum of Archeology looks into rows of excavated graves in 1976, four years after archeologists discovered the prehistoric cemetery and erected a fence to protect it. (Varna Regional Museum of History). Gimbutas thought the Copper Age ended when invaders from the east swept into the region around 4000 BCE. The newcomers were “patriarchal, stratified … mobile, and war-oriented”—everything the people of the Copper Age weren’t. They spoke Indo-European, the ancient tongue that forms the basis for English, Gaelic, Russian, and many other languages. The new arrivals put their stamp on Europe, and wiped out the goddess worship of the Copper Age in the process.” ref

“Gimbutas was putting the finishing touches on Goddesses and Gods as the first finds from Varna were coming to light. She couldn’t have known that this cemetery deep behind the Iron Curtain would come to challenge her theory. In hindsight, the evidence is compelling. When I ask Slavchev about the conclusions drawn by Gimbutas, who died in 1994, he shakes his head. “Varna shows something completely different,” he says. “It’s clear the society here was male-dominated. The richest graves were male; the chiefs were male. The idea of a woman-dominated society is completely false.” ref

“The Varna find still seems miraculous to those who were part of it. In 1972 Alexander Minchev was just 25, with a freshly minted Ph.D. and a new job at the same museum he works in today as senior staff member and expert in Roman glass. One morning he got a call: A former schoolteacher who had opened a small museum in a nearby village was in possession of some treasure; perhaps someone from Varna would be willing to come take a look?” ref

“When the call came in, Minchev recalls, his older colleagues rolled their eyes. Locals were routinely calling about “treasure.” It always turned out to be copper coins they found in their fields, some just a few centuries old. The museum’s storerooms were full of them. Still, Minchev was eager to get out of the office, so he jumped in a jeep with a colleague.” ref

“Entering the smaller museum, the two men immediately realized this was no collection of old coins. “When we walked in the room and saw all these gold artifacts on his table, our eyes popped—this was something exceptional,” Minchev says. The retired teacher told them a former student had uncovered the artifacts a few weeks earlier while digging trenches for electrical cables. After fishing a bracelet out of the bucket of his excavator, the young man gathered up a few more pieces. He assumed the jewelry was copper or brass, and tossed it in the box that came with his new work boots, then shoved it under his bed. Gold never crossed his mind. A few weeks went by before he gave the box of jewelry, still covered in dirt, to his old teacher.” ref

“Until that morning, all the known gold artifacts from the Copper Age weighed less than a pound—combined. In the shoebox alone, Minchev was holding more than double that. The initial find was 2.2 pounds, in the form of bracelets, a flat, rectangular breastplate, earrings, delicate tubes that might have fit around a scepter’s wooden handle, some rings, and other small trinkets. “We took them in that same shoebox straight back to Varna,” Minchev says. Within weeks the bewildered backhoe operator was leading a cop, two archaeologists, and his former teacher to a construction site a few hundred yards from Varna’s lake. Though it had been months since the construction worker found the gold, Minchev immediately spotted more glitter peeking out of the loose dirt on the side of the trench.” ref

“The hunt was on. “It’s very rare to have just one grave,” Minchev says. “Very soon, we found more. After it was obvious it was a cemetery, a temporary fence was erected. It turned out later it wasn’t big enough [to contain the full circumference of the graveyard].” As winter closed in and the ground froze solid, archaeologists lit fires to keep the work going. In a strange twist, a local prison supplied convict labor to help the archaeologists recover the cemetery’s gold. Bulgarian archaeologists spent more than 15 years excavating 312 graves. All date to a relatively brief period between 4600 and 4200 BCE—a pivotal point in human history, when people were just beginning to unravel the secrets of metalworking.” ref

“As researchers dug up one new grave after another, a pattern emerged. The riches of Varna’s cemetery weren’t evenly distributed. The majority of the burials contained very little of value: a bead, a flint knife, a bone bracelet at best. One in five contained small gold objects like beads or pendants. Shockingly, just four graves contained three-quarters of the cemetery’s gold—the Copper Age’s equivalent of the wealthiest one percent. “The cemetery shows big differences between people, some with lots of grave goods, some with very few,” Slavchev says. “6,500 years ago, people had the same ideas we have today. Here we see the first complex society.” ref

“Varna and its gold quickly became celebrated outside of Bulgaria. The country’s communist leadership was eager to promote the site, and they sent the jewelry on tour to museums around the world. Bulgarian archaeologists chuckled at the irony. “I joked with a colleague that this cemetery was the first nail in the coffin of communist ideology,” Minchev says. “It showed that even in the 5th-century BCE, society was very stratified, with very rich people, a middle class, and mostly people with nothing but a pot or a knife to call their own. It was the opposite of the official ideology.” ref

“A day after meeting Minchev, I head back to the museum. This time, I’m not there to see gold. Instead, Slavchev is waiting outside. His car is in the shop, so we hop in a colleague’s battered silver Mitsubishi SUV. We’re going to see the cemetery itself—or what’s left of it. As we weave through mid-day traffic on the edge of Varna, through cookie-cutter apartment blocks and post-communist commercial developments, Slavchev explains that a significant chunk of the cemetery—perhaps a third—was never excavated. In 1991, the archaeologist in charge called a halt to the dig. He reasoned that future researchers would have access to better technology and techniques, and he wanted to finish the publication of the work already done.” ref

“He couldn’t have known that the end of communism would plunge Bulgarian archaeology into a slump that’s lasted more than two decades. Today, Bulgaria is one of the poorest countries in the European Union, and as scientists have struggled to fund legitimate excavations, looters have plundered many of the country’s archaeological treasures and sold them on the international black market. The Varna site has thus far been spared. After turning off the main road into a bleak industrial park, we pull up next to a nondescript chain-link fence. Slavchev gets out of the car and unlocks a gate. Together we slip into a long, narrow strip of land squeezed between run-down factory buildings and warehouses that tower on all sides.” ref

“Locals have turned the fenced area into an informal community garden, with small vegetable plots and ramshackle greenhouses made of plastic sheeting. Where it hasn’t been planted with vegetables, the space is choked with thick underbrush and strewn with trash. A sign was written in black marker on a piece of blue plastic reads, “God is watching from above—Don’t steal!” Twenty-five years after the original excavation was halted, Slavchev is still publishing findings, and hoping eventually to restart the Varna dig and complete the work of his predecessors. One of the questions he’d like to answer: What was it about the Copper Age that encouraged people to create social hierarchies? And why here on the shores of the Black Sea?” ref

“Picking his way through the gardens, Slavchev suggests the people who built the Varna cemetery had more on their minds than subsistence. “The whole population was in good health and had a well-balanced diet. These people were not rich or poor in today’s sense. They didn’t go hungry,” he says. “They had reached a moment where they started to think about more than survival.” Slavchev thinks their minds turned to metal. Sitting by a campfire one night, not long after 5000 b.c., an observant Stone Age farmer must have noticed that certain rocks—green-blue ores we now know as malachite or azurite—melted into shiny beads of copper when they got hot.” ref

“Copper could be shaped and worked into tools and decorations in a way that must have seemed otherworldly. Until the invention of metallurgy, all the tools humanity had at its disposal were crafted from stone, wood, bone, antler, or clay. Once they broke, they were useless. Malleable copper, though, could be shaped into weapons, tools, and jewelry over and over again. “If a metal ax is broken, you can melt it down and produce another ax,” says Svend Hansen, the head of the Eurasia Department at the German Archaeological Institute. “Metal is never used up. It can be recycled endlessly.” The first metalworkers must have seemed like wizards.” ref

“But while stone and bone were widely available—materials anyone could pick up off the ground—malachite, azurite, and gold were all hard to come by. A pound of copper requires mining hundreds of pounds of copper ore; it takes up to ten tons of material to yield an ounce of gold. Mining, smelting, and working metal took special skills and lots of time. All those man-hours needed to be organized and ordered. That’s where the man in grave 43 and his fellow one-percenters came in. “We come for the very first time to a crucial point in human history—part of society must work with metal, and others must feed them,” Slavchev says. “That separation has to be ordered and regulated, with somebody assigning roles. The person making decisions has to have a lot of power to keep society separated.” ref

“Slavchev and I are soon standing on a slight rise, covered in a thicket of brush and stubby trees. A few rotting sheds are barely visible in the undergrowth. He points to a handful of shallow pits downslope, so covered with weeds I wouldn’t have noticed them without his help. “You’re standing on top of the cemetery,” he says. “That’s where they found the richest graves.” Excavators later piled all the dirt from the graves on the part of the cemetery they hadn’t yet examined, sealing it under 15 feet of soil to wait for better days. As a cold wind carries the sound of clanging metal from a nearby factory, I ask Slavchev something I’ve been wondering since we met: What happened to the society that once existed here? The golden age entombed in the cemetery was brief, he says. The bones were all buried within a few centuries, between 6,600 and 6,200 years ago.” ref

“What happened next is an enduring mystery. All along the lower Danube, settlements, and cultures that flourished during the Copper Age come to an abrupt end around 4000 BCE. Suddenly, settlements are abandoned; the people vanish. For six centuries afterward, the region seems to be empty. “We still have nothing to fill the gap,” he says. “And believe me, we’ve looked.” For decades, scholars assumed the sudden abandonment was the result of an invasion by the mounted Indo-European warriors Gimbutas had written about, rampaging through the region. But there are no signs of battle or violence, no burned villages or skeletons with signs of slaughter.” ref

“More recently, researchers have begun considering another possibility—climate change. The collapse of the Copper Age coincides with a warming world, with larger swings in temperatures and rainfall. The villages that produced the gold found here are now underwater: The Black Sea was as much as 25 feet lower than it is today. From the top of the cemetery, it’s just possible to peek over the factory fences and see the lake that covered the villages. All the gold in the world—or at least most of it—couldn’t save them. “Perhaps their fields became swamps,” Slavchev says, closing and locking the gate behind us. “With the changes in climate, maybe people had to change their way of life.” ref

Varna Culture Graves 6,589-6,360 years ago

“The graves have been dated to 4569–4340 BCE or 6,589-6,360 years ago and belong to the Chalcolithic Varna culture, which is the local variant of the KGKVI or Gumelnița–Karanovo culture.” ref

Gumelnița–Karanovo culture 4700 – 3950 BCE or 6,720-5,970 years ago; named after the Gumelniţa site on the left (Romanian) bank of the Danube. At its full extent, the culture extended along the Black Sea coast to central Bulgaria and into Thrace. The aggregate “Kodjadermen-Gumelnita-Karanovo VI” evolved out of the earlier Boian, Marita, and Karanovo V cultures. In the East, it was supplanted by Cernavodă I in the early 4th millennium BCE. One of the most flourishing civilizations from the last half of the 5th Millenium BCE is (next to the Ariuşd Cucuteni – Tripolie complex) Gumelniţa Culture… absolute chronology, still under discussion.” ref

“The Gumelniţa–Karanovo VI culture was a Neolithic culture of the 5th millennium BCE, named after the Gumelniţa site on the left (Romanian) bank of the Danube. At its full extent, the culture extended along the Black Sea coast to central Bulgaria and into Thrace. The aggregate “Kodjadermen-Gumelnita-Karanovo VI” evolved out of the earlier Boian, Marita, and Karanovo V cultures. In the East, it was supplanted by Cernavodă I in the early 4th millennium BCE.” ref

“One of the most flourishing civilizations from the last half of the 5th Millenium BCE is (next to the Ariuşd Cucuteni – Tripolie complex) Gumelniţa Culture… absolute chronology, still under discussion, according to the latest calibrated data, assigns this culture (as mentioned above) to the limits of the last half of the 5th Millenium BCE and maybe to early 4th Millenium BCE. —Silvia Marinescu-Bîlcu, “Gumelniţa Culture” This matches exactly the view of Blagoje Govedarica. The first periodization of Gumelnita culture was suggested by VI. Dumitrescu who split the civilization of Gumelniţa into two phases: A and B. Later on, Dinu V. Rosetti divided the civilization into Al, A2, and B1, B2.” ref

Gumelniţa A

“With a centric evolution from a geographic point of view, the intensity of the cultural trends decreased from the center towards the peripheral area. Having a strong Boian background at the origins, mixed with Maritza elements, the Gumelnita culture lasted short of a millennium from the beginning of Chalcolithic to the start of the fourth millennium BCE.” ref

Gumelniţa A1

“4700-4350 BCE Gumelnita-Karanovo VI-Kodjadermen is also aggregated with Varna culture, still are debates along historians considering the distinctive character of Varna culture.” ref

Gumelniţa A2

“4500-3950 BCE The regional characteristics of A1 phase are diminished, and a more uniform characteristic is identified in discovered artifacts.” ref

Gumelniţa B

“The evolution of the Gumelniţa-Kodjadermen-Karanovo VI is ended on the north bank of the Danube after the arrival of Cernavoda cultures population. The layers at Karanovo are employed as a chronological system for Balkans prehistory. The Gumelniţa is remarkable by the richness of its anthropomorphic and zoomorphic representations. Some consider the achievements of prehistoric craftsmen to be true masterpieces.” ref

“The representation from Gumelnița art differ by other cultures by the following:

· statuettes morphology characterized by expressivity, gesture, and attitude.

· modeling technique

· arms positions on the belly, stretched laterally, in the position of the “thinker”

· sex representation

· decoration pattern” ref

“Seashell ornament is relatively common. At least some of the shellfish used to come from the Aegean regions, for example, the spondylas and the dentals.” ref

See also: Mother Goddess

“As evidence from archaeology, thousands of artifacts from Neolithic Europe have been discovered, mostly in the form of female figurines. As a result, a goddess theory has occurred. The leading historian was Marija Gimbutas, still, this interpretation is a subject of great controversy in archaeology due to her many inferences about the symbols on artifacts. The analysis of the finds uncovered by archaeological excavations revealed a few characteristics of the Gumelniţa objects of art, likely to lead to a few main trends of the spiritual life investigation.” ref

“Thus, the prevalence of a female character is clear, as it represents 34% of all the anthropomorphic representations. That might represent a deity, the term having a general significance, of worship, without being able to specify under the current stage of the researches which is the nature and status of this deity. The male representations are very few, about 1%, while about 10% are the asexual representations, therefore with no sign (breasts, sexual triangle) which might point to the sex of the statuette. —Gumelniţa Anthropomorphic and Zoomorphic Objects of Art by Radian Romus Andreescu.” ref

Technological developments

“Gumelniţa culture has some sign of work specialization: …we do not have enough data on the internal organization of the community, but next to the dwellings themselves, arranged or not in a certain order, we encounter workshop-dwellings for processing lithic material, bones, horns, ornaments, statuettes, etc.). —Gumelniţa Culture by Silvia Marinescu-Bîlcu.” ref

Danube Script

“During the Middle Copper Age, the Danube script appears in three horizons: The Karanovo VI–Gumelniţa–Kodžadermen cultural complex (mainly in Bulgaria, but also in Romania), the Cucuteni A3-A4–Trypillya B (in Ukraine), and Coțofeni I (in Serbia). The first, rates 68.6% of the frequencies; the second, rates 24.2%; and the third, rates 7.6%.” ref

A study on gold and copper provenance for Romanian prehistoric objects using micro-SR XRF


“This study intends to clarify the metal provenance of gold archaeological items using the variation of the Au–Ag ratio and the presence of trace elements as Sn, Sb, Te, and Pb, concentrating on gold Dacian Koson coins, recovered recently. It also extends the area of our investigations to the copper provenance of Bronze Age artifacts—axes, sickles, and celts—found on Romanian territory. The experiments were performed by micro-SR XRF at BESSY Berlin, at the BAM-line facility. Two types of coins (Koson, with and without monogram) were analyzed. The conclusions we reached were that most of the monogram coins are made from refined gold (3–5% Ag, less than 0.5% Cu), while the without monogram coins are made from native Transylvanian gold (9–20% Ag, 0.5–2% Cu), of alluvial origin, proved by the presence of Sn, Sb, and Te embedded in the gold. The problem of provenance for prehistoric Romanian copper and bronze objects consists in linking their elemental compositional patterns to the ones of the Bronze Age regional mines from Bulgaria, Serbia or Transylvania, most likely used as ore sources for their manufacture. The studied samples present relevant traces of As, Ag, Sb, and Co, suggesting the most probable use of copper from Serbia or northern Bulgaria for their manufacture.” ref

6,620-6,520 years old

“This GOLD bead, found at a pre-historic settlement in southern Bulgaria, dates back to 4,500-4,600 BCE or 6,620-6,520 years ago, the archaeologists say, making it some 200 years older than jewelry from a Copper Age necropolis in the Bulgarian Black Sea city of Varna, the oldest processed gold previously unearthed. “I have no doubt that it is older than the Varna gold,” Yavor Boyadzhiev, associated professor at the Bulgarian Academy of Science, said. And It’s a really important discovery. It is a tiny piece of gold but big enough to find its place in history.” ref

“Boyadzhiev, believes the bead was made at the site, just outside the modern town of Pazardzhik, which he says was the first “urban” settlement in Europe, peopled by “a highly-cultured society” which moved there from Anatolia, in today’s Turkey, around 6,000 BCE. “I would say it is a prototype of a modern town, though we can say what we have here is an ancient town, judged by Mesopotamian standards,” Boyadzhiev said. “But we are talking about a place which preceded Sumer by more than 1,000 years,” he added, referring to what is usually considered the first urban civilization, based in southern Mesopotamia, modern-day Iraq.” ref

“The gold bead, weighing 15 centigrams (0.005 ounces), was dug up two weeks ago in the remains of a small house that would have stood at a time when metals such as copper and gold were being used for a first time. The settlement unearthed so far is between 10 and 12 hectares (25-30 acres) and would have had a 2.8-metre-high (9-foot) fortress wall. Anything over 0.7-0.8 hectares is regarded as a town by researchers working in Mesopotamia, Boyadzhiev said. More than 150 ceramic figures of birds have been found at the site, indicating the animal was probably worshipped by the town’s people. The settlement was destroyed by hostile tribes who invaded from the north-east around 4,100 BCE. The bead will be exhibited in the historical museum in Pazardzhik once it has been thoroughly analyzed and its age confirmed, a museum worker said.” ref

A Reappraisal of Iberian Copper Age Goldwork: Craftmanship, Symbolism, and Art in a Non-funerary Gold Sheet from Valencina de la Concepción

Abstract and Figures

“Taking as a point of departure the in-depth analysis and description of an exceptional discovery, consisting of a large hammered gold sheet decorated with embossed motifs from the well-known Chalcolithic settlement of Valencina de la Concepcion (Seville, Spain), this article presents a general appraisal of the social and ideological role of gold in Copper Age Iberia. The information available for this find, including both its context and its inherent characteristics, opens up new perspectives for research into the technology, use, sociology, and symbolism of gold during this time period. We describe and analyze this unique item in detail, including the characterization of the raw material used and the manufacturing process (via SEM-BSE and LA-ICP-MS), as well as an extensive reconstruction of the graphic motifs that are represented, by using digital imaging processing techniques (RTI). We compare this find with the data currently available for the (approximately) 100 Chalcolithic golden artifacts (or fragments of artifacts) found in Iberia to date. Finally, we present an appraisal of the social and ideological framework in which gold was used in Copper Age Iberia, discussing its relevance in aspects such as the dynamics of social complexity, worldviews, or artistic creations.” ref

“Researchers compare this find with the data currently available for the (approximately) 100 Chalcolithic golden artifacts (or fragments of artifacts) found in Iberia to date. Finally, researchers present an appraisal of the social and ideological framework in which gold was used in Copper Age Iberia, discussing its relevance in aspects such as the dynamics of social complexity, worldviews, or artistic creations.” ref

“The Late Neolithic (sometimes referred to as the Almería culture in southeastern Spain or the Alentejo culture in southern Portugal) dates from 6,520-5,270 years ago and was associated with the construction of the first megalithic tombs and the establishment of hilltop settlements.” ref

Late Neolithic/Copper Age Iberia

“Since the late nineteenth century, European prehistorians have pondered the significance of the megaliths, fortified settlements, and decorated figurines of the Late Neolithic and Copper Age of Iberia, including the Balearic Islands. Many early scholars, such as the French prehistorian Émile Cartailhac and the Belgian mining engineer Louis Siret, attributed the development of these cultural features to invasions by or contacts with distant eastern Mediterranean cultures, such as the Mycenaeans, Minoans, Phoenicians, or Egyptians. The development of radiocarbon and thermoluminescent dating in the 1960s, however, undermined these traditional frameworks and demonstrated that Late Neolithic and Copper Age Iberian cultures predated or were roughly contemporary with their supposed eastern Mediterranean inspirations.” ref

“There is also no archaeological evidence that similar objects originated in the eastern Mediterranean at this time, as some prehistorians of the late nineteenth century also noted. For these reasons, archaeologists interpret the cultural transformations of the Late Neolithic and Copper Age of Iberia as the product of local sociopolitical, economic, and ecological forces. There were certainly, however, exchange networks or contacts among groups within the Iberian mainland, among mainland groups and populations on the Balearics, and among Iberians and peoples in North Africa and the western Mediterranean in general. Archaeologists are engaged in assessing the nature of these interactions and their role in the evolution of late prehistoric Iberian societies.” ref


“The Late Neolithic and Copper Age of the Iberian Peninsula lasted from 4500 to 2200 BCE. The Late Neolithic (sometimes referred to as the Almería culture in southeastern Spain or the Alentejo culture in southern Portugal) dates from 4500 to 3250 BCE and was associated with the construction of the first megalithic tombs and the establishment of hilltop settlements. The Copper Age (also known as the Chalcolithic, Eneolithic, Vila Nova de São Pedro [VNSP] culture, Los Millares [LM] culture, or Bronce I) lasted from 3250 to 2200 BCE and was characterized by the development of copper metallurgy, fortified settlements, and new ceramic types, such as bell beakers. In the Tagus River estuary of Portugal and in southeastern Spain it is possible to subdivide the Copper Age into a pre-beaker, Early Copper Age (3250–2600 BCE), and a beaker, Late Copper Age (2600–2200 BCE). Those archaeological sites that provide the best chronometric evidence for cultural changes between the Late Neolithic and Copper Age are Zambujal, Penedo de Lexim, Castelo de Santa Justa, and Leceia in Portugal and Cerro de la Virgen, Montefrío, Horno de Segura, Carigüela, Terrera Ventura, and Moncín in Spain.” ref

“Comparable to the Late Neolithic and Copper Age of mainland Iberia was the Pretalayotic period on the Balearics (3000–1300 BCE). During this time open-air and enclosed settlements were established, and megalithic monuments known as navetas and navetiformes (boat-shaped structures) were built. Beaker pottery also was introduced, and copper metallurgy began. The best-known sites from this period include Son Ferrandéll-Oleza and Son Matge, both on Majorca. At the end of the Copper Age in Iberia many settlements were abandoned, and burials ceased to be used. The causes of these discontinuities are unclear, but they may be related to climatic and environmental change, social conflict, or a realignment of the political order.” ref

“Much has been written about the chronology and architectural development of the Iberian megaliths. Traditionally prehistorians believed that the tombs developed in a continuous sequence, either from large and elaborate tombs to smaller ones or from simple, small ones to larger ones. Absolute dating of the Iberian megaliths suggests, however, that the evolutionary sequence may be more complex than is traditionally conceived. For example, some of the simpler megalithic cists are contemporary with the larger, more complex passage graves.” ref


“Iberia is a complex mosaic of different climates, topography, geology, and vegetation, and this diversity played an important role in the evolution, economies, and interactions of Iberian peoples. The existence of these diverse ecosystems contributed to the development of numerous distinctive, though related, cultural areas in the Late Neolithic and Copper Age. These areas include those of northwestern Iberia, the Beira Alta and Beira Baixa provinces of Portugal, southwestern Portugal, southeastern Spain in Valencia, the Spanish Meseta, and the Balearics (principally Minorca and Majorca).” ref

“Iberia, including the Balearics, comprises two major environmental zones: an Atlantic north and west zone and a Mediterranean south and east zone. The Atlantic zone experiences relatively high rainfall (more than 1,200 millimeters per annum) and cooler temperatures, whereas the Mediterranean zone has less rainfall (less than 800 millimeters per annum) and a warmer climate. The mountain ranges of Iberia provided the geological and mineral resources used to make polished stone tools, beads, and metals and also acted as partial barriers to human groups. The coasts, estuaries, and rivers, which are rich in animal and plant resources, were attractive locations for human settlement throughout Iberian prehistory and served as important transportation and communication routes.” ref

“During the Late Neolithic and Copper Age, the vegetation that dominated Iberia was deciduous woodland in more humid zones and climax evergreen woodland in more arid zones. Pollen studies suggest, however, that both climate change (increasing aridity) and anthropogenic degradation occurred during the Copper Age and that these factors caused a decline in arboreal species. A similar shift took place around 3000 BCE on the Balearic Islands, with the appearance of olives (Olea) attesting to a phase of aridity. Also at this time the Myotragus balearicus, a small endemic goat, began the process of extinction, probably owing to both increasing aridity and human overexploitation.” ref


“Late Neolithic and Copper Age sites are known throughout the Iberian Peninsula, along the coast, and in the interior (including the meseta), and in the uplands and lowlands. During the Late Neolithic, human groups occupied caves, rock shelters, and open-air sites, particularly on hilltops at the confluence of rivers. During the Copper Age, some of these hilltop sites were walled and had circular/semicircular towers, or bastions, built into their walls. Settlements were established in more arid and marginal zones during the Copper Age of both the mainland and the Balearics, and some form of water management or irrigation may have been required to farm in these zones. This expansion into more marginal landscapes is a trend also seen throughout much of western Europe, such as southern France, at the time.” ref

“The typical size of a settlement area during the Iberian Copper Age was 1 hectare, with population estimates for these settlements ranging from a dozen to more than 1,000 individuals. There are, however, larger sites, such as Los Millares in Spain (5 hectares), and some exceptionally large sites, such as Perdigo~es (16 hectares) and Ferreira do Alentejo (50 hectares) in Portugal and La Pijotilla (80 hectares) and Marroquíes Bajos (113 hectares) in Spain. Scholars have debated whether or not the larger sites, such as Los Millares, can be called “urban.” Within the enclosed area of some of these settlements, specialized activities, such as pottery production and copper smelting, often took place. Circular houses (cabanas) were built regularly within and outside the settlement walls. Storage pits are a typical feature of Copper Age settlements; at the site of El Gárcel (Spain), more than three hundred such storage facilities were found. When these pits are located in stratified contexts (such as at the sites of Almizaraque and Ciavieja in Spain), they appear to have been used early in the sequence and then went out of use; it is presumed that storage in pottery vessels replaced the use of storage pits.” ref

“During the Late Neolithic and Copper Age, there were two patterns in which settlements and burials were established. In western and northern Iberia settlements generally were separated spatially from burials. In southern Iberia, however, particularly in southeastern Spain and along the Guadiana River, tombs sometimes were located close to or as integral parts of settlement areas. Cemetery/settlement complexes are found at Los Millares, Valencina de la Concepción, and La Pijotilla (Spain) and Perdigo~es (Portugal). Based on a major study of the megaliths of the Iberian Peninsula, conducted by the German couple Vera Leisner and Georg Leisner, a great deal is known about the location and content of burials during the Late Neolithic and Copper Age. In addition to megaliths, burials of this time—which typically were collective—also were housed in caves, rock shelters, and rock-cut tombs.” ref


“Many artifacts are characteristic of the Late Neolithic and Copper Age of Iberia, but because of the size of Iberia and the diversity of cultures that developed there, not all of these artifacts appear in all parts of Iberia. Furthermore, some objects may be found only in settlements and not in burials and vice versa. The typical artifacts of the Late Neolithic include ceramics known as copos (cups), with channeled decoration, found principally in Portuguese Estremadura. In southeastern Spain the appearance of almagra ware (pottery covered with an iron oxide slip) generally has been viewed as representative of the Late Neolithic, although archaeologists now recognize that almagra ware sometimes is found in later Copper Age contexts as well.” ref

“Objects found chiefly in Copper Age contexts include Symbolkeramik (pottery with incised ocular decorations), cheese strainers (quejeiras in Portugal and queseras in Spain), and ceramics with impressed folha de acácia (acacia leaf) designs and bordos almendrados (almond-shaped rims), the latter two types found principally in Portugal. During the Late Copper Age beakers of the earlier Maritime and All-Over Ornamented (AOO) types and the later Ciempozuelos (in central and southeastern Spain), Salamó (in Catalonia, Spain), and Palmela (in coastal Estremadura, Portugal) types are found. Also emblematic of the Iberian Copper Age are copper awls, fishhooks, and axes, although, despite the name for this phase, the presence of metal objects is relatively rare on sites at this time. Objects found throughout the Late Neolithic and Copper Age of Iberia include polished stone tools (made of amphibolite, basalt, and dolerite) and flint blades, arrowheads, and daggers. Engraved slate plaques, primarily found in burials of southwestern Iberia, also are typical of this period.” ref

“During the Late Neolithic and Copper Age artistic expression in portable objects, monumental architecture, and rock art flourished. A wide range of artifacts, such as pottery (Symbolkeramik), engraved slate plaques, and baculi (the latter in the shape of shepherds’ curved staffs), and cylindrical idols (made of bone, limestone, and clay) were decorated with geometric designs, anthropomorphs or deities, zoomorphs, weapons, and solar motifs. Megaliths (including menhirs and anthropomorphic stelae), caves and rock shelters, and open-air rock faces also were decorated with many of the same motifs as were found on the portable objects; sometimes they were engraved, and sometimes they were painted. Because of shared motifs throughout megalithic art and patterns in the placement of certain of these motifs, some scholars have suggested the existence of a megalithic art “code.” Scholars also have noted the resemblance of megalithic Iberian art to megalithic art found in other regions of western Europe, such as Ireland, and posit that these similarities were the result of contact or exchange.” ref


“During the Late Neolithic, the herding of livestock and agriculture were practiced, but it was not until the Copper Age that a fully agricultural and sedentary lifestyle was established in Iberia. Groups farmed wheat and barley and supplemented their agricultural base by herding sheep, goat, cattle, and pigs; hunting wild game (such as boar and deer); gathering wild plants and plant products (such as acorns); fishing; and collecting shellfish, particularly along the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts. Richard Harrison argued that during the Copper Age Iberia underwent a Secondary Products Revolution, as did other regions of prehistoric Europe. There is archaeological, botanical, and faunal evidence that agriculture intensified during this period, livestock began to be used for their secondary products (dairy, traction, and transportation), and viticulture and woodland management were carried out. There is some debate about whether irrigation was practiced. Some authors have argued that there is archaeological evidence for water management structures and for crops that would have required irrigation (such as flax in southeastern Spain). Other scholars have used carbon-isotope analyses of archaeological seed remains to reason that, with the exception of fava beans, there is no evidence that irrigation was practiced during the Iberian Copper Age.” ref

“Craft specialization during the Late Neolithic and Copper Age is indicated by the production of bifacially flaked flint tools, engraved slate plaques, groundstone tools, copper objects, and decorated ceramics. The precise nature of this specialization and its impact on social and political relationships are under investigation. For example, the small-scale inefficient technology used in the production of copper objects during the Iberian Copper Age suggests that metallurgical specialization was part-time, kin-based, and dispersed. Evidence for copper metallurgy was found at Zambujal (Portugal), Los Millares (Spain), and Son Matge (Majorca). Similarly, Stašo Forenbaher’s study of the production of bifacial stone artifacts from Portuguese Copper Age sites concluded that relatively few specialists would have been involved in the manufacture of these objects. Moreover, because of the restricted types that they produced, they would have not have had a great impact on the economy. Sites that were involved in the specialized production of flint tools have been identified at Los Cercados, Las Canteras, Almizaraque, and Los Millares in Spain and at Casas de Baixo in Portugal.” ref

“During the Late Neolithic and Copper Age, there was trade in unfinished and finished items made of stone (including flint, granite, amphibolite, dolerite, callais, and slate), ceramics, and copper. There also is evidence for exchange between Iberia and North Africa; on some Iberian sites North African ivory and ostrich eggshells have been found, and on sites in North Africa beaker ceramics sometimes are seen. The variety and concentration of goods at certain larger sites, such as La Pijotilla (Spain), suggest that they may have functioned as central places for the distribution of goods.” ref


“During the Late Neolithic and Copper Age of Iberia marked social inequalities and differentiation appeared for the first time in Iberia. The precise nature of these social distinctions, however, is unclear. For example, whether individuals were distinguished by inherited social rank or whether some groups in Iberia could be classified as state societies are subjects under discussion. Archaeologists also differ in their opinions as to the factors that contributed to the social complexity in evidence during this period. Some have emphasized the water-management requirements of the arid zones of Iberia, whereas others emphasize population pressure or the trade of valued material or symbolic resources.” ref

“The variations in tomb types; their sizes, locations, and visibility; the number of people buried within them; and the quantity and quality of goods found with these individuals all suggest that Late Neolithic and Copper Age societies ranked and differentiated its members. For example, it seems reasonable to suggest that persons buried within some of the larger megaliths, such as the extraordinarily large Anta Grande do Zambujeiro in Portugal, with its 6-meter-high orthostats, or standing stones, were of a higher status than those housed in smaller megaliths. Similarly, persons buried individually within a megalithic tomb probably were of a higher rank than those buried in larger groups. At the megalithic cemetery/settlement site of Los Millares, Spain, the tombs with the highest proportion of prestige goods were located closest to the settlement.” ref

“There are also important regional differences in burial elaboration and grave goods during the Late Neolithic and Copper Age. The richest and most varied tombs on the Iberian Peninsula are in the arid zone of southern Spain and the Mediterranean zones of central and southern Portugal (fig. 1). Tombs that are less varied and poorer in grave goods are situated in the Atlantic zones of Iberia, such as Galicia, Spain, and northern Portugal. Several scholars have suggested that this regional variability is related to the labor or risk involved in cultivating the landscape. In arid regions, where it was riskier to farm and where some form of water management or irrigation most likely was practiced, there were more opportunities than in more humid zones for aggrandizing persons to establish permanent control over agricultural systems and to emerge as elites, with political, economic, and ideological power.” ref

“Late Neolithic and Copper Age tombs in Iberia often were used over many hundreds of years to bury people. At times new tombs were built adjoining older tombs, such as at Farisoa 1, Portugal, presumably to house members of the same or related social groups. This behavior suggests that people at the time placed a high value on collective identities as well as on ancestral ties. Such continuities may have resulted from a need to legitimize family or lineage rights to land or resources.” ref

“There is both direct and indirect evidence for violent conflict during the Iberian Copper Age. The construction of elaborate systems of fortification with bastions, sometimes involving several lines of drystone walls (such as at Los Millares and Zambujal, see fig. 2), suggests that there was a need for defense and a heightening of political tensions. Weaponry, such as copper daggers, and painted images of armed people in caves also are indicative of militarism. More direct evidence of violent conflict has been found in the burials at Atalayuela, the Hipogeo de Longar, and San Juan ante Portam Latinam, all in Spain. At the Hipogeo de Longar, a tomb in which at least 112 people of different ages and sexes were buried with few grave goods, four persons were found with arrowheads embedded in their skeletons. At San Juan ante Portam Latinam, 289 people were discovered, and nine had arrowheads in them. At Valencina de la Concepción, Spain, bodies had been thrown into rubbish ditches within the settlement area, apparently without grave goods.” ref


“The clearest evidence for ideology and ritual behavior can be seen in association with the burials of the Late Neolithic and Copper Age. Throughout this period people—sometimes numbering more than two hundred—were buried in collective tombs, including megaliths, caves and rock shelters, rock-cut tombs, and corbel-vaulted tombs. Toward the end of the period, during the Late Copper Age Beaker phase, there was a tendency toward individual burials, perhaps reflecting the emergence of a new social order in which the memory of individuals took precedence over the memory of groups. Systematic analyses of human remains from this period are rare, however, largely because skeletal remains are poorly preserved or have disappeared altogether as the result of the acidity of the soils in which many of the tombs are found.” ref

“Megalithic tombs, in particular, have been an important source of information about ritual behavior during the Late Neolithic and Copper Age of Iberia. Michael Hoskin recorded the orientations of hundreds of Iberian megaliths and noted their highly regular orientation, with their passages facing east at approximately the axis of the midwinter sunrise. This easterly orientation seems to be a common pattern among megalithic tombs throughout the Mediterranean and may reflect a common ideology about the significance of the rising sun, a shared timekeeping function of the megaliths, or some combination of these two factors. Megalithic tombs on the Balearic Islands tend to face toward the west.” ref

“Scholars also have noted that the chambers of most Iberian megalithic tombs were constructed with seven orthostats. Some researchers have suggested that the number seven held important symbolism for Late Neolithic and Copper Age peoples, although Victor dos Santos Gonçalves argues that the number seven may be simply the result of practical architectural considerations. An odd-numbered group of stones would be the result of erecting one stone across the passage entrance; given the size of the chambers, erecting six additional standing stones would be a natural consequence.” ref

“Funerary rites during the Late Neolithic and Copper Age of Iberia included both primary burials and the secondary treatment of corpses. In the case of some primary burials, the central part of the body was cremated to eliminate the viscera. In the case of secondary burials, clusters of bone groups, such as crania or long bones, were buried together. Fires sometimes also were set within the tomb chamber, probably to purify the interior of the tomb. Grave offerings often are found with the deceased, and some objects seem to have been especially made to accompany the dead, such as polished stone axes and adzes (often found unused in burials) and engraved stone plaques.” ref

“The engraved plaques, made on slate and schist, have been the subject of a great deal of research since the late nineteenth century. To date, there are more than one thousand published plaques. Traditionally they were viewed as representations of the Mother Goddess, or Eye Goddess—a deity supposedly derived from the eastern Mediterranean. With the collapse of the “diffusionist” framework in the mid–twentieth century and considering the fact that only about 4 percent of the plaques depict eyed beings, the question of the function and meaning of the plaques, the majority of which have only geometric designs, has remained unresolved. Katina Lillios analyzed the distribution of these geometric plaques by design, tomb, and region and suggests that the plaques may have been ancient coats of arms and that their designs symbolically recorded the lineage affiliation and genealogical history of elite persons.” ref

“Another curious feature of Late Neolithic and Copper Age Iberian ritual is trepanation—the drilling and removal of a part of the skull. This practice appears to have been carried out while the person was alive, as indicated by the regrowth of bone surrounding the opening. Examples of trepanned skulls are known from Cova de la Pastora (Spain). Trepanation also is known from other late prehistoric cultures in Europe, such as those in France and Britain. Whether this practice was part of a healing process or was used to remove a piece of the skull for use in other rituals is unclear.” ref

“Like megalithic burials, menhirs, such as Penedo Comprido (Portugal), and stone circles, such as Almendres (Portugal), also were important features of the symbolic world of Late Neolithic and Copper Age Iberia. Some of the menhirs are phallic, which may reflect their association with fertility (as in later Iberian folklore) or with power. Some menhirs have engravings of solar motifs, which, when viewed in light of Michael Hoskin’s research on the patterned orientations of megaliths, may suggest that ancient Iberians tracked the movements of celestial bodies for agricultural or ritual cycles, as many ancient groups in western Europe also may have done.” ref

Mapping archaeometallurgical data of the Iberian Copper Age: Different ways to look at a big picture


•It is thought that most of the metal in the Iberian Copper Age was locally extracted and consumed.

•In the Copper Age Iberian Peninsula, there was a widespread of arsenical copper.

•The use and circulation of metal is clearer using different ways to visualize geographical analysis.

•Data visualization is not an aesthetic concern, but an active instrument of research.


“Traditionally, archaeometallurgical projects have visualized information through distribution maps of the find spots for different metal compositions or types of objects. However, this is limiting, and more innovative styles of communication are required to engage with more dynamic technological questions such as what underpins the use and circulation of metal. This paper compares four ways to process and represent the archaeometallurgical chemical composition dataset for Copper Age Iberia, and the different conclusions they tend to support. Using distribution maps, the widespread of arsenical copper is clear, however more nuanced features are obscured. Through employing ubiquity analysis, with regular or irregular grids, it is possible to understand the relative importance of arsenical copper within the local consumption of metal, and how this relates to local extraction. While Relative Risk maps can suggest links between metal circulation and geographical features, particularly rivers. Rather than just being an aesthetic concern, we aim to demonstrate that visualization of georeferenced data is an important research method.” ref

The Rise and Fall of Gold Metallurgy in the Copper Age of the Carpathian Basin: The Background of the Change


“The paper deals with the different use of gold and copper in the Early and Middle Copper Age on one side and the Late Copper Age cultures of the Carpathian Basin on the other side. Transylvania was in the antiquity one of the richest gold mining areas of Eurasia. This is demonstrated on the basis of Roman and Medieval texts, expecially on hand of those about the Decebalus gold treasure found by the troups of Trajan in 106 CE.” ref

“In strong contrast to the wide use of gold (and also of copper) in the very gold-rich area of Transylvania during Early and especially Middle Copper Age cultures (i.e. the Tiszapolgár and Bodrogkeresztúr and their corresponding cultures in other parts of the Carpathian Basin, among others the Lasinja culture in Transdanubia with its gold discs) there is no trace of the use of gold in the Late Copper Age. In the Late Copper Age, also a very strong decrease in the number and also weight of the copper artifacts can be observed, too, and it is very remarkable that the few copper objects were daggers. This stays to indicate wartime or at least a continuing armed unrest during Late Copper Age. Invasions, conquests, and similar events never promote production, accumulation, hoarding, and public use of gold.” ref

7000 years ago men were a sub-species ruled by WOMEN & outnumbered 17 to 1, scientists say WOMEN dominated the world thousands of years ago after the male population came under severe threat, resulting in a wipeout of the Y chromosome that is still felt today.

“Scientists have now discovered new evidence to show male diversity almost completely collapsed 7,000 years ago, in a disaster so extreme there was only one man for every 17 woman, staying that way for the next 2,000 years. According to researchers at Stanford University, the wipeout came after centuries of wars between the male-dominated group, called patrilineal clans. Scientists observed modern DNA and noticed a pattern of chromosome trends. Neolithic remains from ancestral tribes all over Europe they likely fought in full-scale wars around 5,500 years ago, using clubs, axes, and arrows to fight off their enemies. The war was so severe that it caused the male population to plummet to extremely low levels, reaching an astonishing one-twentieth of its original level. This was known as ‘Neolithic Y-chromosome bottleneck’, a time where human genetic diversity reduced massively, with its effects felt across the world.” ref

“According to genetic patterns, researchers found the decline was only noticed in men – particularly on the Y chromosome, which is passed on from father to son. The group of scientists, led by Tian Chen Zeng, a Stanford undergraduate in sociology, wrote in their published paper: “An abrupt population bottleneck specific to human males has been inferred across several Old World (Africa, Europe, Asia) populations 5000–7000 BP.” Their findings suggested that a high population of men were dying before they had a chance to mate and produce offspring, leading researchers to believe it resulted after centuries of war. Previous studies also show trauma marks present on skulls clearly indicate the fighters used axes, clubs, and arrows to kill each other.” ref

“Scientists from Stanford used mathematical models and computer simulations, in which men fought and died – allowing them to test their theory on ‘Neolithic Y-chromosome bottleneck’. One of the researchers, Professor Marcus Feldman, a professor of biology in Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences said they now aim to find any “historical and geographical patterns of cultural interactions that could explain the patterns you see in genetics”.” ref

“Latest studies also show that the Y chromosome only has 4.6 million years left, which is not a long time considering life on Earth has existed for 3.5 billion years. Y chromosomes have a “fundamental flaw”, according to researchers at the University of Kent, Dr Peter Ellis, and Professor Darren Griffin. They said that unlike other chromosomes in our DNA which have two copies each, Y chromosomes only have one. Because they are only presented as a single copy, Y chromosomes are unable to “shuffle” and recombine with other chromosomes, which occurs throughout generations to help prevent unwanted gene mutations. This results in the loss of Y chromosomes as they are slowly deteriorate over time and eventually wiped out from the genome.” ref

Researchers discover wealth, power may have played a stronger role than ‘survival of the fittest’ 4,000 to 8,000 years ago

“In a study led by scientists from Arizona State University, the University of Cambridge, University of Tartu, and Estonian Biocentre, researchers discovered a dramatic decline in genetic diversity in male lineages 4,000 to 8,000 years ago – likely the result of the accumulation of material wealth, while in contrast, female genetic diversity was on the rise. This male-specific decline occurred during the mid- to late-Neolithic period. “Instead of ‘survival of the fittest’ in a biological sense, the accumulation of wealth and power may have increased the reproductive success of a limited number of ‘socially fit’ males and their sons,” said Melissa Wilson Sayres, a leading author and assistant professor with ASU’s School of Life Sciences.ref

“It is widely recognized among scientists that a major bottleneck, or decrease in genetic diversity, occurred approximately 50,000 years ago, when a subset of humans left Africa and migrated across the rest of the world. Signatures of this bottleneck appear in most genes of non-African populations, whether they are inherited from both parents or, as confirmed in this study, only along the father’s or mother’s genetic lines. “Most surprisingly to us, we detected another, male-specific, bottleneck during a period of global growth. The signal for this bottleneck dates to a time period 4,000 to 8,000 years ago, when humans in different parts of the world had become sedentary farmers,” said senior author Toomas Kivisild from the Division of Biological Anthropology, University of Cambridge.ref

“Researchers studied DNA samples taken from the saliva or blood of 456 males living in seven regions of five continents including Africa, the Andes, South Asia, Near East and Central Asia, Europe, and Oceania. Scientists specifically studied the Y chromosome, which is passed down through the male lineage, and the mitochondria, which is passed to offspring by the genetic mother. After using computer and statistical modeling, they found the two extreme “bottlenecks” in human genetic history, specifically the second found only in the male lineage. The researchers said studying genetic history is important for understanding underlying levels of genetic variation. Having a high level of genetic diversity is beneficial to humans for several reasons. First, when the genes of individuals in a population vary greatly, the group has a greater chance of thriving and surviving – particularly against disease. It may also reduce the likelihood of passing along unfavorable genetic traits, which can weaken a species over time.ref

“According to Monika Karmin, a leading author from the University of Tartu, Estonia, their findings may have implications related to human health. “We know that some populations are predisposed to certain types of genetic disorders,” said Karmin. “Global population evolution is important to consider, especially as it relates to medicine.” “When a doctor tries to provide a diagnosis when you are sick, you’ll be asked about your environment, what’s going on in your life, and your genetic history based on your family’s health,” added Wilson Sayres, who is also with ASU’s Biodesign Institute. “If we want to understand human health on a global scale, we need to know our global genetic history; that is what we are studying here.ref

“The researchers believe this will be relevant for informing patterns of genetic diversity across whole human populations, as well as informing their susceptibility to diseases. Wilson Sayres said the next step is to continue the research by gathering a greater number of DNA samples, increasing the diversity of the samples, and working with anthropologists and sociologists to gain a broader perspective on the findings. The research was funded jointly by several sources, with primary support from the University of Tartu and Estonian Biocentre. Researchers from 66 institutions around the world participated in this study.” ref

“The 1,000-year-long Copper Age is also known as the Chalcolithic Period. It lasted from about 4500-3500 BCE, overlapping with the early Bronze Age. Some cultures and individuals used Copper Age technology after the Copper Age was over. The word Chalcolithic is derived from the Greek words “chalco” (copper) and “lithos”(stone). The oldest copper ornament dates back to around 8700 B.C. and it was found in present-day northern Iraq. There is evidence for copper smelting and recovery through the processing of malachite and azurite in different parts of the world dating back to 5000 BCE. Copper pipes used to carry water, dating back to around 2700 BCE, were found in one of the Egyptian pyramids. The Latin name for copper is Cuprum (Cu). It is believed that it has originated from the island of Cyprus where the Romans used to mine copper from its rich copper mines.” ref

“Copper was being fashioned into implements and gold was being fashioned into ornaments about 6,000 years ago, 3,000 years before the Greeks and Roman empires. Copper was the first metal to be worked by humans on a relatively large scale in part because it is found in “large pure ingots in a natural state” in many different locations around the world. Axes, points, and armor could be fashioned by simply hammering the metal; melting it wasn’t necessary.” ref

“Gerald A. Larue wrote in “Old Testament Life and Literature”: In Palestine: “The Chalcolithic Age extended from the middle of the fifth to near the end of the fourth millennium B.C. During this period the art of smelting and molding copper was developed, and stone and bone tools were now augmented by a limited supply of implements made of this new substance. The skill developed by smiths in the handling of copper is amply illustrated in the several hundred beautifully fashioned cultic items from the end of the Chalcolithic period that were discovered in a cave near the Dead Sea in the spring of 1961.” ref

“Andrew Curry wrote in Archaeology magazine, “Once largely ignored by the scholarly community, the Copper Age has become a hot topic. Since the collapse of communism in 1989 opened doors for western scholars in countries including Bulgaria, Romania, and Ukraine, a new appreciation for the region’s prehistory is taking hold. The centuries between 5000 and 3500 BCE are now seen as a crucial transition period during which early Europeans began to use metal tools, developed complex social structures, and established far-flung cultural and trading networks.” ref

“Far from being a historical footnote, Copper Age Europe was a technological and social proving ground. Archaeologists have found the earliest evidence of distinctions between rich and poor, rulers and the ruled. There is no evidence of social hierarchy prior to this period, in the Neolithic, or Stone Age. Until recently, scholars assumed the Copper Age was no more advanced. “Copper Age and Neolithic societies are always described as egalitarian, or as less complex,” says German Archaeological Institute researcher Svend Hansen. The latest discoveries, however, suggest that humanity’s first hesitant steps out of the Neolithic were probably taken as a result of the development of metalworking and the changes in society that came along with this technological breakthrough.” ref

See Otzi, the Iceman

Making Copper

“Some natural copper contains tin. During the fourth millennium in present-day Turkey, Iran, and Thailand man learned that these metals could be melted and fashioned into a metal—bronze—that was stronger than copper, which had limited use in warfare because copper armor was easily penetrated and copper blades dulled quickly. The bronze shared these limitations to a lesser degree, a problem that was rectified until the utilization of iron which is stronger and keeps a sharp edge better than bronze, but has a much higher melting point.” ref

“Smelting ore probably began in China or India and made its way westward. Much of the copper in ancient civilization in Mesopotamia, the Middle East, Egypt, Phoenicia, Greece, and Rome came from Cyprus, whose name is the source of the word copper. To melt copper out the rock it is necessary to keep a fire at least 1981̊F (1083̊C). This was most likely done in ancient Copper Age sites by continuously blowing a fire through tubes made from wood, bamboo, or reeds. Archaeologists recreating the process need about an hour of constant blowing to produced several copper pellets the size of BBs. Producing copper for an ax using this method would take several weeks.” ref

Rudna Glava and Ai Bunar: World’s Oldest Copper Mines

“Rudna Glava in Serbia and Mechikladenets-Ai Bunar near Stara Zagora, Bulgaria are regarded as Europe’s — and perhaps the world’s — oldest copper mines. William A. Parkinson wrote in “Ancient Europe, 8000 BCE to CE 1000: Encyclopedia of the Barbarian World”: “Extensive research by eastern European scholars has reshaped our understanding of early copper ore mining techniques that were used during the Late Neolithic and Early Copper Age in the Balkans. Since the late 1960s, archaeological investigations at two copper mines—Rudna Glava and Ai Bunar—have revealed the complexity of early copper metallurgical techniques and revised our understanding of early copper exploitation strategies and their relationship to other socioeconomic processes. One of the most well-known prehistoric copper mines is the site of Rudna Glava in eastern Serbia. The site, located 140 kilometers east of Belgrade on the Romanian border, was a magnetite mine until the late 1960s. Archaeological excavations by Borislav Jovanović in the 1970s revealed over twenty prehistoric mine shafts that followed veins of copper ore throughout the limestone massif.” ref

“The mine was excavated in antiquity using techniques that had been employed for thousands of years to exploit lithic resources, such as chert. Armed with stone mauls and antler picks, the prehistoric miners followed the vertical veins of copper ore into the hillside. They employed a method of heating and cooling to break up the ore and facilitate quarrying. First, they would light fires along the wall face. Then they would throw water onto the hot rock, causing it to crack and thus making it easier to chip apart. Some of the veins were followed 15 to 20 meters into the center of the hill, with small horizontal access platforms extending off the main shaft. In those cases where the shaft appeared to be in danger of collapsing the miners built stone supporting walls out of the debris they excavated.” ref

“The mine at Rudna Glava is well dated to the Late Neolithic and Early Copper Age, a period also known as the Chalcolithic, which took place during the second half of the fifth and the first half of the fourth millennium BCE. This dating is based on pottery from the Vinča culture that was found in the mine shafts. Jovanović recorded three different accumulations of pottery in the shafts. The oldest, which was found on an access platform in the mine along with a damaged antler tool and a large stone maul, dates to the transitional phase, known as the Gradac phase, between Early and Late Vinča, during the fifth millennium BCE. The two other pottery concentrations are characteristic of Late Vinča culture and date to the early fourth-millennium BCE.” ref

“Another early copper mine was excavated at the site of Ai Bunar in northern Bulgaria in the Sredna Gora Mountains of central Bulgaria. The mine at Ai Bunar is roughly contemporary with the mine at Rudna Glava, and the miners used similar techniques. They excavated narrow open trenches to follow the veins of copper carbonates into the hills. As at Rudna Glava, archaeologists found antler picks and stone mauls in the mine shafts, in addition to two shaft-hole copper tools and the remains of three human individuals.” ref

“The ceramics found at Ai Bunar are characteristic of the ceramics found in the sixth layer at the Karanovo tell (Karanovo VI) and date to the late fifth millennium BCE. While this discovery demonstrates that the mines at Ai Bunar were in use during the later fifth millennium BCE, other evidence suggests the mines probably were in use somewhat earlier, possibly as early as the end of the sixth millennium BCE. Copper objects and ore that have been demonstrated chemically to have derived from the sources at Ai Bunar were found at several sites in south-central Bulgaria that are contemporary with Karanovo V, a phase that dates to the beginning of the fifth millennium BCE.” ref

“Chemical analyses, primarily lead isotope analyses, carried out by E. N. Chernykh, Noël H. Gale, and several Bulgarian specialists have demonstrated that Ai Bunar and Rudna Glava were not the only sources for copper ore in prehistory. The analysis of copper artifacts from several sites in south-central Bulgaria suggests that at least four other copper sources were exploited, though they remain unidentified.” ref

“A handful of other copper mines have been located in northern Thrace, one of which contained Karanovo V and VI pottery, and another prehistoric mine also is known to have existed at Mali Sturac, a site in the Rudnik mountain range in central Serbia. Unfortunately, none of these sites has been extensively explored, and little has been published about them.” ref

Copper Age Settlements in the Middle East

“Chalcolithic Age lasted in Palestine roughly from 4,500 to 3,300 BCE. Gerald A. Larue wrote in “Old Testament Life and Literature”: “Villages and towns of varying size were now spread throughout Palestine and permanent houses were built of stone, mud-brick, and wood, although cave living was still common, and near Beer-sheba, there was a whole village with underground living and storage quarters. A rich variety of stone, pottery, and copper artifacts, fine flint work, paintings, and carvings mark cultural growth in this period. New burial patterns were developed. Often the dead were interred in large storage jars, and at other times bodies were cremated and the remains placed in specially made pottery urns and interred in caves.” ref

“Exposed rocks in western Jordan, in the Wadi Faynan region, contain bluish copper ore that can easily be removed by hand. Around 4500 BCE people discovered that the copper ore, when heated to temperatures yields a metal strong enough to make tools as well as religious objects and other items. The copper found in Wadi Faynan was moved along ancient trading routes from Jordan to Israel, mostly likely on foot and by donkey, to places like the Basheba Valley, where fertile alluvial soils along stream beds supported increasingly large populations. A Copper Age village, with more than a thousand people and dated to 4200 BCE, was found in Shiquim in the Besheeba Valley in Israel in the 1970s. The people lived in mud-brick and stone houses and built an extensive network of underground rooms used to store grain. Large structures used for religious, economic, and social purposes were built.” ref

“Curry wrote in Archaeology, “Recent digs at Copper Age sites across Europe are overturning long-held beliefs about the continent’s earliest cultures Beginning in the early 1970s, archaeologists excavating the Copper Age site of Varna, Bulgaria, uncovered evidence of the emergence of a class system in prehistoric Europe. In one grave, the remains of a man buried with more than two pounds of gold pointed to his economically and socially superior position in society.” ref

Objects from Middle East Copper Age Settlements

“In the Copper Age, Middle East Period people living primarily in what is now southern Israel fashioned awls, axes, adzes, chisels, vessels, mace heads, ornate standards, crowns, and eight-inch rings (probably used as ingots because they were easy to transport and store). In a canyon called Nahal Mishmar on the west side of the Dead Sea, archaeologists found 429 objects, dating to 3500 BCE, in reed mats that showed incredible artistry and technical skill. People from the Chalcolithic Period also made objects from ivory and stone such as figures with large noses and breasts carved from hippopotamus and elephant tusk, violin-shaped figures made of schist, granite, and limestone that may have been goddesses from a fertility cult. In 1993, archaeologists found a skeleton of a Copper Age warrior in a cave near Jericho. The skeleton was found in a reed mat and linen ocher-died shroud (probably woven by several people with a ground loom) along with a wooden bowl, leather sandals, a long flint blade, a walking stick, and a bow with tips shaped like a ram’s horns. The warrior’s leg bone showed a healed fracture.” ref

Nahal Mishmar Treasure

“According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art: “In 1961, a spectacular collection of objects dating from the Chalcolithic period (ca. 4000–3300 BCE) was excavated in a cave in the Judaean Desert near the Dead Sea. Hidden in a natural crevice and wrapped in a straw mat, the hoard contained 442 different objects: 429 of copper, six of hematite, one of stone, five of hippopotamus ivory, and one of elephant ivory. Many of the copper objects in the hoard were made using the lost-wax process, the earliest known use of this complex technique. For tools, nearly pure copper of the kind found at the mines at Timna in the Sinai Peninsula was used. However, the more elaborate objects were made with a copper-containing a high percentage of arsenic (4–12 percent), which is harder than pure copper and more easily cast.” ref

“Carbon-14 dating of the reed mat in which the objects were wrapped suggests that it dates to at least 3500 B.C. It was in this period that the use of copper became widespread throughout the Levant, attesting to considerable technological developments that parallel major social advances in the region. Farmers in Israel and Jordan began to cultivate olives and dates, and herders began to use milk products from domesticated animals. Specialized artisans, sponsored by an emerging elite, produced exquisite wall paintings, terracotta figurines and ossuaries, finely carved ivories, and basalt bowls and sculpture.” ref

“The objects in the Nahal Mishmar hoard appear to have been hurriedly collected. It has been suggested that the hoard was the sacred treasure belonging to a shrine at Ein Gedi, some twelve kilometers away. Set in an isolated region overlooking the Dead Sea, the Ein Gedi shrine consists of a large mudbrick walled enclosure with a gatehouse. Across from the gatehouse is the main structure, a long narrow room entered through a doorway in the long wall. In the center of the room and on either side of the doorway are long narrow benches. Opposite the door is a semicircular structure on which a round stone pedestal stood, perhaps to support a sacred object. The contents of the shrine were hidden in the cave at Nahal Mishmar, perhaps during a time of emergency. The nature and purpose of the hoard remains a mystery, although the objects may have functioned in public ceremonies.” ref

World’s Oldest Crown: Used for Funeral Rituals Near the Dead Sea

“A crown dating to about 3,500 BCE. discovered in the Cave of Treasures near the Dead Sea was used for burial ceremonies during the Copper Age. The Epoch Times and Times of Israel reported: “The Nahal Mishmar Hoard is a collection of copper, bronze, ivory and stone artifacts found wrapped in a reed mat in a cave by the Dead Sea.” ref

“A team searching for Dead Sea scrolls in 1961 discovered the treasure hidden in a crevice, behind a boulder deep within the cave. Carbon-dating of the mat places it in the Copper Age between 4,000-3,500 BCE. The amazing find included mace heads, scepters, tools, and weapons, many of which were unlike anything ever found.” ref

“One object of particular interest is a crown, believed to be the oldest in the world. It is a thick copper ring with doors and vultures protruding from the top. Based on the symbolism, researchers believe it was used for funeral rituals. The crown was unveiled by New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World as part of the “Masters of Fire: Copper Age Art from Israel” exhibit in 2015.” ref

Rujm El-Hiri

“Rujm El-Hiri is a megalith circle in present-day Israel that possibly dates to the Copper Age. S.E. Batt wrote for Listverse:: Also known as the “Wheel of Giants,” Rujm el-Hiri is a large, circular, megalithic structure near the Sea of Galilee. It appears as a giant stone wheel with inner rings and “spokes” that connect everything. Right in the middle of the ring, almost like a bull’s-eye, is a place for burial.” ref

“Not only are archaeologists unsure that the burial site was made at the same time as the wheel but further investigation of the site revealed that no burials actually took place in it. It’s thought that valuable artifacts were once here because there is proof that looters hit the site, including a Chalcolithic pin potentially dropped by a looter.” ref

“As for proposed functions, archaeologists don’t believe it was a place built for dwelling or defense. Some believe that it was a calendar given how the sunrise on the solstices align with the entrances of the wheel. One popular explanation points to the burial site, claiming that people were placed there to undergo excarnation, the act of removing the flesh from a human body. The bones would be moved to another site, which explains the lack of evidence that a burial took place. However, it would be hard, if not impossible, to prove that this actually occurred at Rujm el-Hiri. Regardless, the site has been estimated to have taken 25,000 working days in total to build. Whatever purpose it was meant to perform, it was obviously very important.” ref

Chalcolithic Age Mesopotamia

“Gerald A. Larue wrote in “Old Testament Life and Literature”: “In Mesopotamia, at Tell Halaf on the Khabour River, a tributary of the Euphrates, hard, thin pottery with a beautiful finish produced by high firing at controlled heats was found. This pottery from the middle of the fifth millennium is decorated with geometric designs in red and black on- a buff slip, but animal and human figures also appear. One figure appears to represent a chariot, thus indicating the use of the wheel. Houses were constructed out of mud-brick, but reed structures plastered with mud were also built. Cones of clay, painted red or black or left plain, were often inserted in the mud walls to form mosaics and to protect the wall from weathering.” ref

“A small shrine of mud-brick from Eridu belongs to the same period. Only foundations and a plastered floor remain, but it is surmised that the upper structure was plastered and painted. Later in the period the shrine was covered over with earth, and a second temple was built above it, placing the new building considerably above the surrounding plateau.” ref

“A more pretentious structure from the beginning of the fourth millennium was found at Tepe Gawra, near modern Mosul. Three large buildings of sun-baked brick were located on an acropolis and designed to frame three sides of an open court. Inner rooms were painted in red-purple, and exterior walls were red on one building, white on another, and brown on the third. A fourth-millennium temple was built at Uruk upon a staged, elevated mound, 140 by 150 feet at the base and 30 feet high. This man-made, mountain-top home for the gods was of pounded clay and layers of sun-dried brick and asphalt. Surmounted by a white-washed temple (65 x 150 x 14 feet) and approached by a steep stairway and a ramp, this structure is known as a ziggurat (from the Assyrian-Babylonian ziqquratu, meaning “to be raised up,” hence “a high place”) and is the prototype of loftier and more magnificent ziggurats of later periods.” ref

“For the first time, the cylinder seal is found. Each of these small stone cylinders had distinctive patterns inscribed on its surface, and when rolled over soft, moist clay left a raised design, which could be used as a sign of ownership. About the middle of the fourth millennium, pictographic writing was developed and incised upon clay tablets. As the use of writing increased pictographs became more and more stylized, finally being reduced to wedge-shaped symbols or what is called cuneiform writing. Cuneiform characters were impressed upon a tablet of moist clay with a stylus, and if the document required a signature, a cylinder seal was used. The tablet was baked or allowed to dry, forming a permanent record.” ref

“A hearth or incense burner found in one of the caves near Beer-sheba was set in the center of the mud floor and consisted of an arrangement of large pebbles in the form of what has been called “a magic square.” Each stone bears a mark in indelible red color, and it is possible that the hearth was used in divination by a priest-magician in the Chalcolithic age. The excavators lifted out the entire section of the floor that contained the hearth and mounted it in a special frame for study and display.” ref

“The precise identity of these Mesopotamian people is not known for sure, but on the basis of the sexegesimal arithmetical system utilized on some of the clay tablets, a system also used by the Sumerians, and from references to gods worshiped by the Sumerians, it is presumed that they were Sumerians. Where they came from and when is unknown,5 but they are neither Semites nor Indo-Europeans, and they refer to themselves as “the black-headed-people.” ref

Chalcolithic Age Egypt

“Gerald A. Larue wrote in “Old Testament Life and Literature”: “In Egypt the Chalcolithic period is represented by Badarian culture, first found at al Badari. Unusual, ripple patterned pottery was produced in a variety of finishes. Green malachite ore, so important for the beautification of the eyes, was ground on slate palettes that were often ornamented. Skeletal remains indicate that the Badarians were a stocky people and that they believed in some form of afterlife, for the dead were buried in a flexed or sleeping posture with food and equipment. In burial urns from the plain of Sharon the deceased person was cremated and the ashes and bones were placed in these clay house-shaped ossuaries. Each urn is individualistic in design and structure, which may indicate stylistic variations in the architecture of the dwellings of the period. The significance of the “nose-like” projection is not known.” ref

“The succeeding culture, beginning with the fourth millennium, was called Amratian, after el-Amreh near Abydos, and was centered in Upper Egypt. A new people, tall and slender, appear. Some features of their artifacts demonstrate borrowing from the Badarians, but the extensive use of copper, magnificent flint work, and artistic expressions in slate, ivory, and clay mark unique developments. Amratian dead were buried in oval pits in tightly flexed positions. In addition to the usual grave furnishings, ivory and clay figurines of women and slaves were included, leading to the hypothesis that these were miniature substitutions for an older practice of sacrificing living individuals to serve an important individual in the afterlife.” ref

“The Gerzean period began in the middle of the fourth millennium, and for the first time, written documents appear in Egypt. Local towns or districts (later called “nomes” by the Greeks) were formed, each with a local symbol that was often mounted on ships to designate a district of origin. By conquest, units were joined into larger districts. Gerzian tombs were elaborate: the poor were buried in oblong graves with a ]edge at one side to hold funerary offerings, the rich in tombs lined with mud brick. Gold is found for the first time along with silver and meteoritic iron. Figures on a clay vessel about 113/4 inches high from the late Gerzian period are in deep red against a cream-colored background. The wavy handles on each side are known as “ledge handles” and are characteristic of vessels of the same period found in Palestine.” ref

“Within the next half-millennium, significant administrative changes occurred. Gerzean districts of Upper Egypt united under a single ruler who wore a tall white helmet as a crown. Delta nomes united tinder a king who wore a crown of red wicker-work. By 2900 BCE the two areas had become one, and the single ruler wore both red and white crowns and was known as “King of Upper and Lower Egypt.” ref

Metal Tools in Ancient Egypt

“Early tools were made from copper and later bronze. Egyptian bronze tended to be around 88 percent copper and 12 percent tin. Iron was introduced by the Hittites in the 13th century but wasn’t common until the 6th or 7th century BCE. James Harrell of the University of Toledo wrote: “Stones exploited for tools and especially weapons were progressively supplanted by metals, initially copper in the late Predynastic Period, then the harder bronze beginning in the Middle Kingdom (ca. 2030–1640 BCE), and finally the still harder “iron” (actually low- grade steel) by the end of the Late Period (712–332 BCE). These metals, however, never completely replaced the stone tools and weapons, and crushing and grinding were almost always done with stones throughout antiquity.” ref

“According to Plumbing & Mechanical Magazine: “The Egyptians were quite skilled in working metals. They melted metal in a crucible over a super-hot fire, the intense heat provided by men fanning the fire with blowpipes made of reeds tipped with clay. The molten metal was poured out and allowed to cool, then beaten out with smooth stones into sheets of the required thickness. It was then cut to shape. One explanatory picture in a tomb chapel describes the process as “causing metal to swim.” ref

“Sculptures made of copper, bronze, and other metals were cast using the lost wax method which worked as follows: 1) A form was made of wax molded around a pieces of clay. 2) The form was enclosed in a clay mold with pins used to stabilize the form. 3) The mold was fired in a kiln. The mold hardened into a ceramic and the wax burns and melted leaving behind a cavity in the shape of the original form. 4) Metal was poured into the cavity of the mold. The metal sculpture was removed by breaking the clay when it was sufficiently cool.” ref

Copper Tools in Ancient Egypt

“A wide variety of copper tools, fish hooks, and needles were made. Chisels and knives lost their edge and shape quickly and had been reshaped with some regularity or simply thrown out. In the Old Kingdom (2700 to 2125 BCE) there was only copper. Copper-making hearths have been found near the pyramids. Reliefs found nearby show Egyptians gathering around a fire smelting copper by blowing into long tubes with bulbous endings.” ref

“André Dollinger wrote in his Pharaonic Egypt site: “Copper may have been the first metal to be worked in Egypt, even before the metallic gold. The ores had a 12 percent copper content and given the scarcity of fuel and the difficulties of transportation one may well marvel at the fact, that they succeeded at extracting copper at all. In the beginning, it was probably worked cold. In early Egyptian graves copper ornaments, vessels and weapons have been found as well as needles, saws, scissors, pincers, axes, adzes, harpoon and arrow tips, and knives.” ref

“This wide array of tools made of a metal difficult to cast and even with tempering too soft to be of use with any but the softest stone and wood shows the urgent need people felt for tools more flexible than what could be made of wood and stone.” Much of the copper used in Egypt was mined in the Sinai.” ref

“Pure copper (like silver or gold) has a hardness factor of 2.5 to 3 on the Moh scale which is just about the same as limestone’s. Naturally occurring copper is somewhat harder due to metallic impurities. Thanks to tempering, copper chisels and saws could be used to work freshly quarried limestone from the 4th dynasty onwards, but annealing with fire and hammering also rendered the tools more brittle. Because of the metal’s softness, copper tools lost their edge quickly and had to be resharpened frequently. When cutting and drilling grit was probably used, which lodged itself in the edges of the soft copper bits and performed the abrasive action.” ref

“At first copper and bronze tools were similar to their stone equivalents, but soon the properties of the metal, among them malleability, began to influence their design. Fishing hooks were given barbs. Knives grew longer. Sowing needles were fashioned less than 1½ mm thick. Copper tools found at Kahun: 1) Piercer or bradawl with wooden handle; 2) Barbed fishing hooks; 3) Needle; 4) Pin; 5) Netting bobbin; 6) Hatchet; 7) Knives; 8) Chisel.” ref

Cyprus—Island of Copper

“Covering 3,570 square miles, Cyprus is situated in the northeastern corner of the Mediterranean Sea, south or present-day Turkey and west of present-day Syria. It is the third-largest island in the region after Sicily and Sardinia. Colette and Seán Hemingway of the Metropolitan Museum of Art wrote: “Cyprus was famous in antiquity for its copper resources. In fact, the very word copper is derived from the Greek name for the island, Kupros. Cypriots first worked copper in the fourth millennium B.C., fashioning tools from native deposits of pure copper, which at that time could still be found in places on the surface of the earth. The discovery of rich copper-bearing ores on the north slope of the Troodos Mountains led to the mining of Cyprus’ rich mineral resources in the Bronze Age at sites such as Ambelikou-Aletri. Tin, which is mixed together with copper to make bronze, typically at a ratio of 1:10, had to be imported.” ref

“True tin bronzes appear to have been made on Cyprus as early as the beginning of the second millennium BCE. In the nineteenth century BCE, the island is mentioned for the first time in Near Eastern records as a copper-producing country, under the name “Alasia,” and it continued to be an important source of copper for the Near East and Egypt throughout most of the second millennium BCE. Scholars, however, are in disagreement as to the exact meaning of “Alasia”: whether it refers to a specific site on Cyprus, such Enkomi or Alassa, or to the island itself, or, less probably, to another geographic location.” ref

“Cypriot copper and bronze working was relatively modest in the Early and Middle Bronze Ages, and metalsmiths manufactured a limited range of types, including tools, weapons, and personal objects such as pins and razors. Excavations have revealed increasing metallurgical activity at settlement sites in the Late Bronze Age. Nearly all of the major centers, including Enkomi, Kition, Hala Sultan Tekke, Palaeopaphos, and Maroni, provide evidence of copper smelting, as do smaller settlements, including Alassa and Kalavasos-Ayios Dhimitrios.” ref

“Metalwork of the first part of the Late Bronze Age continued to follow earlier conservative traditions. Despite the widespread evidence for metallurgical activity, there are few examples of actual bronze work from Cyprus between ca. 1450 BCE until the late thirteenth century B.C., the Late Cypriot II period, because the metal was valuable and metal objects were melted down in subsequent periods for reuse. However, the recent discovery of the Ulu Burun shipwreck, which was carrying over ten tons of Cypriot copper ingots when it sank off the southwestern coast of Turkey in the late fourteenth century BCE, vividly demonstrates that Cyprus was a major producer of copper for international trade. Toward the end of the Late Bronze Age, the Cypriot metalworking industry was transformed under foreign influence. Cypriot smiths produced some of the finest bronze work in the eastern Mediterranean, most notably tripods and four-sided stands.” ref

Prehistoric Cyprus

“Colette and Seán Hemingway of the Metropolitan Museum of Art wrote: Cyprus’s “unique culture dates from as early as the end of the ninth millennium BCE, when the first permanent settlers may have arrived from southern Anatolia or the Syro-Palestinian coast, bringing with them an already developed culture. However, there is evidence for the presence of seasonal hunters of pygmy elephants and pygmy hippopotami before then, ca. 10,000 BCE. The earliest Neolithic settlers had an organized society based on agriculture and animal husbandry. Several of their settlements have been excavated throughout the island, including Khirokitia and Kalavasos near the southern coast. During the latter part of the Neolithic period (ca. 8500-3900 BCE), islanders began to work clay, making vessels which they baked and often decorated with abstract patterns in red on a light slip.” ref

“The culture of the succeeding Chalcolithic period (ca. 3900-2500 BCE) may have been introduced to the island by a new wave of settlers who came from the same regions as the Neolithic settlers. Their art and religious practices were sophisticated. Clay and stone female figures, often with accentuated genitals, predominate, symbolizing the fertility of humans, animals, and the soil—the essential needs of an agrarian community. In the latter part of the Chalcolithic period, people began making small tools and decorative ornaments from the native copper (chalkos); thus the phase is termed Chalcolithic, referring to the transition from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age.” ref

“Little is known about the political system on Cyprus during the Late Bronze Age, although the island clearly maintained strong ties with the Near East, especially Syria. Urban centers with palatial structures of the fourteenth and thirteenth centuries BCE., such as Enkomi and Kition, have been excavated extensively, and rich cemeteries of the same period have yielded luxury goods in a variety of materials. From the beginning of the fourteenth-century BCE., there was a significant influx to Cyprus of fine quality Mycenaean vessels, which are found almost exclusively in the tombs of an aristocratic elite. With the destruction of the Mycenaean centers in Greece during the twelfth century BCE., political conditions in the Aegean became unstable, and refugees left their homes for safer places, including Cyprus, beginning the Hellenization of the island that would take root over the next two centuries.” ref

Trade in Prehistoric Cyprus

“Colette and Seán Hemingway of the Metropolitan Museum of Art wrote: “The unique geographic location of Cyprus at the crossroads of seafaring trade in the eastern Mediterranean made it an important center for trade and commerce in antiquity. Already in the Early Bronze Age (ca. 2500-1900 BCE.) and Middle Bronze Age (ca. 1900-1600 BCE.), Cyprus had established contacts with Minoan Crete and, subsequently, Mycenaean Greece, as well as with the ancient civilizations of the Near East (Syria and Palestine), Egypt, and southern Anatolia.” ref

“From the first part of the second millennium BCE., Near Eastern texts referring to the kingdom of “Alasia,” a name that is most likely synonymous with all or part of the island, attests to Cypriot connections with the Syro-Palestinian coast. Rich copper resources provided the Cypriots with a commodity that was highly valued and in great demand throughout the ancient Mediterranean world. Cypriots exported large quantities of this raw material and other goods, such as opium in Small Base Ring Ware jugs resembling the capsules of opium poppies in exchange for luxury goods such as silver, gold, ivory tusks, wool, perfumed oils, chariots, horses, precious furniture, and other finished objects.” ref

“During the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1600 -1050 BCE.), copper was being produced and exported on a massive scale, and Cypriot trade expanded to include Egypt, the Near East, and the Aegean region. Correspondence between the pharaoh of Egypt and the king of Alasia, dating from the first half of the fourteenth century B.C., provides valuable information about the trade relations between Cyprus and Egypt. The Cesnola Collection has a number of objects of faience and alabaster that were imported into Cyprus from Egypt during this period. The scope of Cypriot maritime trade at this time is best exemplified by the fourteenth-century B.C. shipwreck at Ulu Burun recently excavated off the southwestern coast of Anatolia. Archaeological remains indicate that the ship was sailing west, having perhaps called at other harbors in the Levant, and that it had loaded 355 copper ingots (ten tons of copper) in Cyprus, as well as large storage jars, some of them containing fine Cypriot pottery and agricultural goods, including coriander.” ref

Culture and Art in Prehistoric Cyprus

“Colette and Seán Hemingway of the Metropolitan Museum of Art wrote: “The pottery of the prehistoric Cypriots, especially that produced in the Early and Middle Bronze Ages, is exuberant and imaginative in shape and decoration. Terracotta figurines were also produced in fairly large numbers and placed in tombs throughout the Bronze Age. As in the Chalcolithic period, they most commonly depict female figures that symbolize regeneration. Other funerary objects, especially those buried with men, include bronze tools and weapons. Gold and silver jewelry and cylinder seals appear on Cyprus as early as 2500 BCE. The island had a highly developed glyptic art, which shows influences from both the Near East and the Aegean region. ” ref

“Undeniable influence of the Aegean on Cypriot culture during the Late Bronze Age can be seen in the development of writing, bronzeworking, seal stone carving, jewelry production, and some ceramic styles, especially in the twelfth century BCE., when intermittent Mycenaean settlers were arriving on the island. From about 1500 BCE., the Cypriots began using a still undeciphered script, which very much resembles the Linear A of Minoan Crete. Long examples exist on baked clay tablets and other documents found at urban centers such as Enkomi (on the eastern coast) and Kalavasos (on the southern coast). Engraved and pointed characters of the script appear on a number of vases in the Cesnola Collection at the Metropolitan.” ref

“During the Late Bronze Age, Cyprus was also an important center for the manufacture of works of art that show an amalgam of local and foreign influences. Stylistic features and iconographic elements borrowed from Egypt, the Near East, and the Aegean are often mixed together in Cypriot works. Undoubtedly foreign motifs, and the significance they held, were reinterpreted as they became part of distinctive local artistic traditions. Cypriot artisans traveled abroad as well, and in the twelfth century B.C. some Cypriot metalsmiths may have settled as far west as Sicily and Sardinia.” ref

Slave Hill, Biblical-Era Copper Mine: Solomon’s Mine?

“Since 2012, Ben-Yosef Erez Ben-Yosef, an archaeologist from Tel Aviv University, has been overseeing an archaeological expedition in the heart of Israel’s Timna Valley, the second-biggest source of copper in the southern Levant region. (The biggest is Faynan, farther north in Jordan.) Megan Gannon wrote in Live Science: “People have taken advantage of the copper deposits at Timna for millennia. There are dozens of smelting sites and thousands of primitive mining pits clearly visible in the region today. And the area is still used for copper production; the Mexican mining giant AHMSA has a stake in the region.” ref

“Recently, the Timna Valley team has taken a crack at Slaves’ Hill, a smelting factory on top of a mesa that was in operation during the 10th century B.C., the biblical era of King Solomon. Today, there are traces of ancient furnaces at the site and lots of slag, which is the rocky material that’s left over after metal is extracted from its ore. (Essentially, it’s manmade lava.). Nelson Glueck explored the region in the 1930s, he named this hilltop site Slaves’ Hill, assuming that its fortification walls were intended to keep enslaved laborers from running off into the desert. When he saw this very harsh environment, he assumed that the labor force had to be slaves,” Ben-Yosef told Live Science.” ref

“The site has a complicated scholarly history. When Glueck first explored the region, he thought he was looking at Iron Age mines that fueled King Solomon’s fabled wealth. Later research then cast doubt on Glueck’s interpretation. In 1969, an Egyptian temple dedicated to the goddess Hathor was discovered in Timna Valley. Archaeologists at the time took this as evidence that mining in the area was controlled by Egypt’s New Kingdom during the Bronze Age, a few centuries earlier than the supposed reign of King Solomon.” ref

“When Ben-Yosef’s team revisited the site, they took carbon dates at Slaves’ Hill, and found that most artifacts date to the 10th century B.C., when the Bible says King Solomon ruled. Still, there is no evidence linking Solomon or his kingdom to the mines (and little evidence outside of the Bible for Solomon as a historical figure). One theory is that the mines were controlled by the Edomites, a semi-nomadic tribal confederacy that battled constantly with Israel. ” ref

“Last year, the team’s research at Timna Valley added another layer of nuance to the biblical narrative. Ben-Yosef and Sapir-Hen published an analysis of camel bones at Slaves’ Hill and other surrounding sites. The age of the earliest bones supports the theory that camels were not introduced to the region until at least the early Iron Age — in contradiction to the Old Testament, which refers to camels as pack animals as far back as the Patriarchal Age, which is thought to be around 2000 BCE.” ref

“The latest findings of the Central Timna Valley Project were detailed in the September issue of the journal Antiquity and were presented here last week at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research. The team will return to Timna Valley in February 2015. Ben-Yosef said that the researchers will investigate the smelting technology of the Egyptians who worked in the region during the Bronze Age, and will explore the actual Iron Age mines.” ref

Workers at Slave Hill, Seemed to Have Lived Pretty Well

“Metalworkers at Slave Hill appear to have been compensated for their work with fairly good meals. Megan Gannon wrote in Live Science: “The metalworkers’ diet included good cuts of sheep and goat, as well as pistachios, grapes, and fish brought to the middle of the desert from the Mediterranean, according to an analysis of ancient leftovers at “Slaves’ Hill”…The findings imply that “Slaves’ Hill” might be a misnomer; the people who manned the furnaces probably weren’t slaves, but rather, they held a higher status because of their craft, archaeologists say.” ref

“Ben-Yosef and his colleague Lidar Sapir-Hen, another archaeologist at Tel Aviv University, looked at animal remains from Slaves’ Hill and found mostly sheep and goat bones, many with butchery marks. This supports the idea that this mining camp relied on livestock for food. Bones from the meatiest parts of the sheep and goats were found near the smelting furnaces.” ref

“The archaeologists also found the remains of 11 fish, including catfish, which would have come from the Mediterranean Sea, at least 125 miles (200 kilometers) away. The researchers found pistachios and grapes, too, which would have come from the Mediterranean region. The team also discovered a sea snail known as a cowrie, which would have come from a more local water source, the Red Sea, at least 19 miles (30 kilometers) to the south.” ref

“The archaeologists said they think that whoever was running this mining camp was importing food and saving the best cuts of meat for the metalworkers, not the people who were doing auxiliary tasks, such as cooking the food, crushing the ore and preparing the charcoal, nor slaves who might have been working in the actual mines.”What we found was that the guys working at the furnace, which is supposedly very hard work with very high temperatures above 1,200 degrees Celsius [above 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit], these people were treated the best,” Ben-Yosef said. “They were highly regarded. It goes together with the need for them to be highly specialized and very professional.” Metalworkers had to be multitaskers. They controlled nearly 40 different variables, from the temperature to the amount of air to the amount of charcoal in the furnace, Ben-Yosef said. “If they had mistaken something, the entire process would fail,” Ben-Yosef said. “On the other hand, if they do succeed, they are the guys who know how to make metal from rock.” ref

Climate’s Role in Ancient Chinese Civilization

“A suddenly cold climate about 5,500 years ago coincided with the advent of ancient Chinese civilization, implying some relationship between the two events, Chinese scientists said Monday. About 5,500 years ago, a global climate change occurred and the average temperature dropped by two to three degrees centigrade due to solar activity and the orbit of the earth, geologist Liu Dongsheng told Xinhua.” ref

“Liu, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said the glaciers in the western part of China advanced forward during that period and the development of ancient soil of the Loess Plateau in northwest China stopped, while the cold-resistant spruce prospered in regions such as today’s Beijing. More and more archaeological discoveries seem to indicate there was also a social change in China during that time. The poor and the rich were differentiated in human society, and people were divided into different social strata.” ref

“Archaeologists have found ancient settlement centers and tombs of aristocrats in the relics of that period. Weapons became popular funeral objects, which means that wars were common at that time. And then castles appeared. All of these are deemed as signs of emerging civilization, said archaeologists. Wu Wenxiang, a scholar with the Urban Environment Department of Peking University, explained that the sudden change of climate caused a sharp decrease of food and intensified the conflict between population and resources.” ref

“As a result, the ancient Chinese migrated from outer areas to the center regions, from high land to low altitude places which were more comfortable to live in, said Wu. During the process of scrambling for resources, the concept of private property appeared, and people’s praying for favorable weather led to the development of religion, Wu said. But the overall environment was still suitable for human development. The climate played an important role in human social development, but it was not a determinative factor, said Wu.” ref

“Scientists have found that the climate change did not always push forward the development of civilization, but sometimes caused disasters. The climate became remarkably cold again about 4,000 years ago, which many foreign scholars believe is the main reason of the collapse of the ancient civilizations in Egypt, Indus, and the Mesopotamian. China has many legends about floods during that period. Chinese archaeologist Yu Weichao attributed the decline of the Liangzhu and Longshan cultures on the lower reaches of the Yangtze and Yellow rivers to serious floods about 4,000 years ago. “The floods turned the lower reaches of the Yangtze and Yellow rivers, especially the Yangtze delta, into boundless water. Most of the facilities of the formerly prosperous Longshan and Liangzhu cultures were suddenly destroyed when their farmland was inundated,” said Yu.” ref

He added that production stopped, along with the development of civilization.

“Wu Wenxiang said that when the Longshan and Liangzhu cultures were declining, the Xia Culture was rising in central China during the climate change, initiating China’s first dynasty, Xia (about 2070-1600 BCE). More studies are needed to explain why, Wu added. The relationship between climate change and the evolution of civilization has drawn the attention of many scientists, who presume that the fluctuation of climate is favorable for the survival of the fittest. Chinese archaeologists and scientists have begun a project to find the origin of ancient Chinese civilization. They listed environmental change and civilization development as an important research subject.” ref

Ancient Chinese Domesticated Leopard Cats 5,500 Years Ago

“The 5,500-year-old cat remains found more than a decade ago in China have been identified as the leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) by an international team of scientists, led by Sorbonne University researcher Jean-Denis Vigne. With global numbers of more than 500 million individuals, the domestic cat (Felis catus) is amongst the most common pet in the world today. Modern genetic data indicates that the South-West Asian and North African subspecies of wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica) is the ancestor of all modern domestic cats. In the 2000s, archaeologists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences unearthed cat bones in agricultural settlements dating from around 3500 BCE in Shaanxi and Henan provinces, China.” ref

“Was this evidence of a relationship between small Chinese cats and humans in the fourth millennium BC in China? Or was it the result of the arrival in China of the first domestic cats from the Near East? There was no way of deciding between these two hypotheses without identifying the species to which the bones belonged,” Dr Vigne and his colleagues said. “Although there are no less than four different forms of small cat in China, the subspecies from which modern cats are descended — Felis silvestris lybica – has never been recorded there.” To try to settle the question, the scientists undertook a geometric morphometric analysis, which, in the absence of ancient DNA, is the only way of differentiating the bones of such small cats, which have very similar morphologies whose differences are often imperceptible using conventional techniques.” ref

They analyzed the mandibles of five cats from Shaanxi and Henan dating from 3500 to 2900 BCE.

“The mandible shape analyses demonstrate that the small felids from Middle and Late Neolithic sites in Shaanxi and Henan provinces display close phenotypic similarities with Prionailurus bengalensis and not with F. silvestris lybica or F. s. silvestris,” the researchers wrote in a paper in the journal PLoS ONE. “We can, therefore, reject the hypothesis that these small Chinese felids are commensal or early domesticated cats introduced from SW Asia between 10,800 and 5,500 years before present, where only F. s. lybica have so far been identified.” Still very widespread in Eastern Asia today, the leopard cat is well-known for its propensity to frequent areas with a strong human presence. Just as in the Near East and Egypt, these cats were probably attracted into Chinese settlements by the proliferation of rodents who took advantage of grain stores. “The leopard cat’s ‘domestic’ status, however, appears to have been short-lived – its apparent subsequent replacement shown by the fact that today all domestic cats in China are genetically related to F. silvestris,” the scientists concluded.” ref

How do you solve a Stone Age murder mystery? First, identify the weapon.

“Archaeologists in the United Kingdom are turning to forensic methods to understand violence in the Neolithic period. In experiments described in the journal Antiquity, researchers used a replica of a 5,500-year-old wooden club to see what kind of damage they could inflict on a model of a human head. They found that such clubs were indeed lethal weapons.” ref

Stone Age conflict

“Archaeologists have found ample evidence of violence in Western and Central Europe during the Neolithic period, through burials of people who had skull fractures—some healed, some were fatal —from an intentional blow to the head. But it was often unclear where these injuries came from. “No one was trying to identify why there was blunt-force trauma in the period,” said study leader Meaghan Dyer, a doctoral student at the University of Edinburgh. “We realized we needed to start looking at weapons.” ref

“Later periods like the bronze Age brought metal weapons such as swords and daggers. But Neolithic people didn’t leave behind many objects that could be categorized definitively as weapons for violence against human beings, Dyer said. A bow and arrow, for example, could be used for hunting, but it can also be used to shoot another person. [Photos: Gilded Bronze Age Weaponry from Scotland] “We wanted to see if we could come up with a really efficient method to determine which tools could be used as weapons,” Dyer said. So, Dyer and her supervisor Linda Fibigerturned to synthetic skull models that are designed for ballistics tests for guns. (Animal models and human cadavers were not scientifically or ethically acceptable.) These skulls consisted of a rubber skin wrapped around a polyurethane, bone-like shell that was filled with gelatin to simulate the brain. Dyer wanted to see how these artificial human heads would hold up after getting bashed by a replica of a Neolithic wooden club found known as the Thames beater.” ref

Murder weapon?

“Wooden clubs were still used as weapons in the following Bronze Age, so it is quite likely that they were an important piece of Neolithic weaponry,” said Christian Meyer, head of the Osteo-Archaeological Research Center in Goslar, Germany, and has studied Neolithic violence but wasn’t involved in the study. Wood typically does not preserve well in the archaeological record, but the Thames beater was pulled out of the waterlogged soil on the north bank of the Thames River in the Chelsea area of London. It has been carbon-dated to 3530-3340 B.C. and is now housed in the Museum of London. Dyer described the club as a “very badly made cricket bat” that’s much heavier at the tip.” ref

“Dyer enlisted a friend, a 30-year-old man in good health, to do the bashing, and told him to swing as hard as he could at the “skulls,” as if he were in a battle for his life. The resulting fractures resembled injuries seen in the real Neolithic skulls. One fracture pattern closely matched a skull from the 5200 BCE massacre site of Asparn/Schletz in Austria, where archaeologists had previously speculated that wooden clubs might have been used as weapons. “We didn’t go out aiming to replicate a particular injury, and when we got that fracture pattern, we were quite excited,” Dyer said. “We knew right away that we had a match there.” ref

Reconstructing raids and assaults

“If archaeologists can link specific weapons to specific injuries, then they can start to reconstruct scenes of violence in the Neolithic era. The Thames beater, for instance, “very clearly is lethal,” Dyer said. It would probably be used only in scenarios where you were trying to kill your opponent. Dyer and her colleagues are starting to look at scenarios where different weapons might have left non-fatal head wounds. “Violence is more complex than maybe we’ve understood to this point,” Dyer said. “I’m of the opinion that maybe the word ‘war’ doesn’t apply yet in this period because societies were a bit smaller. But we can start to understand things like raiding, assault, infanticide, and murder. By understanding that, we can much better understand what it meant to be a human being in a Neolithic society in Europe.” ref

“Meyer said that the experimental setup “is a good starting point for further in-depth research into the question of what weapons were used in the Neolithic and on whom.” Rick Schulting, an archaeologist at the University of Oxford, who was not involved in the study, added that the findings “are relevant to any period in which wooden clubs are used as weapons to inflict harm.” The researchers had also found that direct blows can result in linear fractures, and previously, such fractures had usually been attributed to falls, Schultingsaid. He added that this finding “may lead us to revisit some cases that were previously discounted as evidence of violence.” ref

History of violence?

“The findings also confirm that before the Paleo-Eskimo culture suddenly disappeared around 700 years ago, there was no mixing between those communities and the Inuit ancestors, who arose from a second, distinct Siberian migration.” ref

“Scientists have traced a genetic descent from the 5,500 year-old remains to a second set of 2,500 year-old female remains found nearby and, amazingly, to a woman still living close to both prehistoric sites on British Columbia’s northern coast.ref

“The study used DNA samples from 60 modern members of the indigenous Tsimshian, Haida, and Nisga’a tribes from the Metlakatla First Nation.  The samples were compared with mitochondrial DNA extracted from the teeth of four ancient people: two skeletons aged 6,000 years and 5,500 years unearthed in an ancient shell midden on Lucy Island, and two skeletons aged 5,000 years and 2,500 years found on Dodge Island. Three living individuals had DNA matches with the older Dodge Island skeleton, and three of the skeletons matched at least one living person.  The oldest Lucy Island skeleton didn’t match any living relatives, but did match a 10,300-year-old skeleton previously unearthed on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska.” ref

“The team was surprised by the genetic link between the 5,500-year-old Lucy Island female and the 2,500-year-old Dodge Island female, but was elated to find they both had the exact same mitogenome of a living Tsimshian woman – a kinship covering at least 200 generations. Previous DNA research suggests that 95% of all Native Americans can trace their mitochondrial ancestry to 6 women who lived between 18,000 and 21,000 years ago.  The mitochondrial signatures that these ‘founding mothers’ left behind aren’t found in Asia, which suggests that they arose in Beringia, the now-submerged land bridge which connected Asia to North America during the last Ice Age.” ref

However, the genetic picture which followed their descendants’ migration into North America around 15,000 years ago has proven difficult to understand – mainly due to the effects of European colonization from the 16th century onwards, which, as well as adding European DNA into the mix, effectively snuffed out many indigenous genetic lineages. Which makes this living mitochondrial link particularly important. Study leader Ripan Malhi, said:  “It’s a rare lineage.” ref

“Burials that show differential treatment in the number of grave goods for members of the community, as well as the appearance in some regions of artificial skull deformation, suggest the existence of the ranked societies with which these practices were later associated. The high incidence of broken bones and skulls among male burials, coincidentally with the appearance of decorated clubs of stone or whalebone, suggests the development of a pattern of warfare.” ref

“Neoglacial climate change during the Late Holocene resulted in a cooler, wetter climate in Southeast Alaska, with increased storminess and heavier winter snowfalls. Coastlines were fully stabilized by about 2,500 years ago. During this period, Developmental Northwest Coast Stage societies in the region experienced a cultural and economic fluorescence which ultimately led to the complex Eyak, Tlingit, and Haida societies encountered by European and Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries. These developments resulted in greater dependence on intertidal resources, larger populations, permanent winter villages, tribal and clan societies holding territories which they defended, and elaborate plank houses, art, and ritual.” ref

“One prominent synthesis has divided the Developmental Stage into Early (5,200 – 2,600 years ago), Middle (2,600 – 1000 years ago), and Late (1000 – circa 250 years ago) phases, but other researchers have offered different schemes emphasizing continuity and gradual change. Representative sites for the Early phase include: Hidden Falls (Baranof Island), Coffman Cove (Prince of Wales Island), Rosie’s Rock shelter (Heceta island), Ground Hog Bay (Chilkat Peninsula), and Traders Island. The Middle phase is represented by Sarkar Entrance (Prince of Wales Island), Young Bay (Admiralty Island), Green Creek, and Component II at Hidden Falls, among others. Late phase sites include Starrigavan (Baranof Island), Russian Cove, Bear Shell Midden (Chichagof Island), Old Town (Knight Island), and Component I at Ground Hog Bay.” ref

“After about 5,200 years ago, evidence for larger and more permanent settlements appears, including large shell middens associated with masses of fire-cracked rock, wooden post molds indicating plank house construction, beach-gravel pavements, and rock bounded hearths. Further evidence is provided by the appearance of wooden fish weirs targeting salmon for mass harvest at about 3,200 years ago, and a three-fold increase in the number of dated archaeological sites between 6,500 and 1,000 years ago. A variety of seasonal subsistence camps remained in use and fortifications implying warfare appeared.” ref

“Petroglyphs bearing clan crests and delineating territorial boundaries are part of the late Developmental record. Human burials from the late developmental phase are common finds. Bones and shell excavated from the midden sites gives us a detailed picture of Developmental Stage diets. Mammals targeted included Sitka deer, bears, harbor seals, sea otters. Whale, either scavenged or hunted, appears in late Developmental sites. Bird remains are uncommon, but include rare bald eagle bones. Domestic dog bones are also found, but it is not certain if they were used as food. Fish remains show use of four species of anadromous salmon and more than 14 species of marine fishes, including halibut, cod, and rockfish. At least 21 species of shellfish were eaten, with blue mussel, butter clams, and Pacific littleneck clams making up the majority at some sites.” ref

“Technologically the shift from the Transitional to the Developmental Stage is marked by much greater reliance on ground stone implements, including large and elaborate tools like grooves adzes and mauls. Other ground tool forms are stone points, wedges, gravers, abraders, and bowls. Nephrite, a tough form of jade, was used for some for some heavy tools like mauls. Bone was used for barbed harpoon points and drinking tubes, shell for knives, and beaver incisors for woodworking. Decorative items like incised stones and a wide variety of ornamental items are also found. These include pendants and beads made of shell, mammal teeth, amber, and jet. Ground labrets were used to fill lower lip piercings. Simple flaked stone technology and even microblades are retained at some of the earliest Developmental sites, but subsequently disappear from the archaeological record. Rare flexible organic artifacts like bark mats and baskets have been found in middle and late Developmental phase sites.” ref

“Copper makes its first appearance in late Developmental sites, used for items like knife blades, arrowheads, bracelets and beads, small adze blades, scrapers, knives, drills, and awls. Flaked stone technology using obsidian makes a small revival during the late Developmental phase. Awls made from drift iron of European origin appear at the very end of the Developmental Tradition.” ref

Ancient ritual site of a Mesopotamian war god that was used for animal sacrifices 5,000 years ago is uncovered in Iraq

· Archaeologists have uncovered a sacred plaza dedicated to a war god in Iraq

· The area was used some 5,000 years ago to worship the god Ningirsu

· People would hold festivals and sacrifice animals to appease him

· The team found bowls and cups, along with animal bones

“Archaeologists uncovered a 5,000-year-old  sacred plaza in Iraq that was used for rituals to appease a Mesopotamian warrior-god. The team working at the site in Telloh believe it was used for feasts, animal sacrifices, and other processions dedicated to Ningirsu – the hero-god of war, hunting, and weather. Inside the pit were cups, bowls, jars, and animals bones that experts say are the remains from animal sacrifices. However, a bronze object shaped like a duck was also found that may have been dedicated to Nanshe, a goddess associated with water, marshlands, and aquatic birds, LiveScience reported. The ritual site is located in what was once Girus, which was city of ancient Sumer -one of the earliest cities in the world.

“A sacred plaza has laid hidden in Iraq for 5,000 years that was used for rituals to appease a Mesopotamian warrior-god and a recent excavation has uncovered its gruesome past. Archaeologists working at the site in Telloh discovered the area was used for feasts, animal sacrifices, and other processions dedicated to Ningirsu – the hero god of war, hunting, and weather. The area has been of interest to archaeologists for years, as it holds important Sumerian remains and artifacts. Recently experts have been investigating the center of Girsu where the temple of Ningirsu was once standing. Here they have found over 300 ceremonial ceramic cups, bowls, jars, and spouted vessels, all of which have been damaged over time. There was also a trove of animal bones hiding under the dirt, which archaeologists believe are remains from the animal sacrifices held in the ritual pit.

“They have found over 300 ceremonial ceramic cups, bowls, jars, and spouted vessels, all of which have been damaged overtime… The cite was used some 5,000 years ago to appease a Mesopotamian war god.

A bronze figurine that resembles a duck was also discovered, which the team, who told LiveScience in an email, believes may have been dedicated to Nanshe, a goddess associated with water, marshlands, and aquatic birds, along with a vase inscribed with text about the goddess. Sebastien Rey, director of the British Museum’s Tello/Ancient Girsu Project, and Tina Greenfield, a zooarchaeologist at the University of Saskatchewan, led that excavation at the site.

The ritual site is located in what was once Girus, which was city of ancient Sumer -one of the earliest cities in the world

Because a thick layer of ash was found lying the ground, the team speculates massive feasts were held in the area.

These clues connects the area to the place ‘where according to the cuneiform texts religious festivals took place and where the population of Girsu gathered to feast and honour their gods,’ Rey and Greenfield said in the email.

Clay tablets, also known as Cuneiform tablets found at Girsu  describe residents holding religious ceremonies in the sacred plaza.

The text tells of a religious feast in honor of Ningirsu that was held twice throughout the year and lasted for three or four days, Rey and Greenfield explained.


“A historical area of the Middle-East that spans most of what is now known as Iraq but also stretched to include parts of Syria and Turkey. The term ‘Mesopotamia’ comes from Greek, meaning ‘between two rivers’. The two rivers that the name refers to are the Tigris river and the Euphrates. Unlike many other empires (such as the Greeks and the Romans) Mesopotamia consisted of several different cultures and groups. Mesopotamia should be more properly understood as a region that produced multiple empires and civilizations rather than any single civilization. Mesopotamia is known as the ‘cradle of civilization’ primarily because of two developments: the invention of the ‘city’ as we know it today and the invention of writing.

Mesopotamia is an ancient region of the Middle-East that is most of modern-day Iraq and parts of other countries. They invented cities, the wheel, and farming and gave women almost equal rights

“Thought to be responsible for many early developments, it is also credited with the invention of the wheel. They also gave the world the first mass domestication of animals, cultivated great swathes of land, and invented tools and weaponry. As well as these practical developments, the region saw the birth of wine, beer, and demarcation of time into hours, minutes, and seconds. It is thought that the fertile land between the two rivers allowed hunter-gathers a comfortable existence which led to the agricultural revolution. A common thread throughout the area was the equal treatment of women. Women enjoyed nearly equal rights and could own land, file for divorce, own their own businesses, and make contracts in trade.” ref

Fingerprint study upends ideas about ‘women’s work’ in ancient America

“Archaeologists just assumed that women made the pottery at Chaco Canyon 1,000 years ago. Then they started thinking like cops—and things got interesting.” ref

Ancient Egyptian Religion: Forced Similarity of Beliefs

“Ancient Egyptian religion, mixed with state control changed it all, to me, can in a way be thought of as the youngest of the oldest in religions before Organized religions really embodied power. World religions, that had been advancement to ever-greater complexity and organization/standardization of myth/beliefs in all the religions before Egypt but it is also the oldest of the new theme of very organized religions embodied the power of forced similarity of beliefs would take over the world. This was especially evident first in the joining of upper and lower Egypt through war also established a never before shared-set of religious beliefs, ones that lasted a few thousand years. The beginning of the First Dynasty (Sometime between 3218–3035 BCE, with 95% confidence, commonly held as 5,120 years ago or so).” ref

The emergence of metallurgy may have occurred first in the Fertile Crescent. The earliest use of lead is documented here from the late Neolithic settlement of Yarim Tepe in Iraq,

“The earliest lead (Pb) finds in the ancient Near East are a 6th millennium BC bangle from Yarim Tepe in northern Iraq and a slightly later conical lead piece from Halaf period Arpachiyah, near Mosul. As native lead is extremely rare, such artifacts raise the possibility that lead smelting may have begun even before copper smelting. Copper smelting is also documented at this site at about the same time period (soon after 6000 BCE), although the use of lead seems to precede copper smelting. Early metallurgy is also documented at the nearby site of Tell Maghzaliyah, which seems to be dated even earlier, and completely lacks pottery.” ref

“The Timna Valley contains evidence of copper mining in 7000–5000 BCE. The process of transition from Neolithic to Chalcolithic in the Middle East is characterized in archaeological stone tool assemblages by a decline in high quality raw material procurement and use. This dramatic shift is seen throughout the region, including the Tehran Plain, Iran. Here, analysis of six archaeological sites determined a marked downward trend in not only material quality, but also in aesthetic variation in the lithic artifacts. Fazeli et al. use these results as evidence of the loss of craft specialization caused by the increased use of copper tools. The Tehran Plain findings illustrate the effects of the introduction of copper working technologies on the in-place systems of lithic craft specialists and raw materials. Networks of exchange and specialized processing and production that had evolved during the Neolithic seem to have collapsed by the Middle Chalcolithic (c. 4500–3500 BCE) and been replaced by the use of local materials by a primarily household-based production of stone tools.” ref

Mysterious 6,500-year-old Culture in Israel Was Brought by Migrants, Researchers Say

“Genetic analysis shows ancient Galilean farmers warmly embraced blue-eyed, fair-skinned immigrants from Iran and Turkey in the late Copper Age.” ref

Ghassulian culture

Ghassulian refers to a culture and an archaeological stage dating to the Middle and Late Chalcolithic Period in the Southern Levant (4400 – 3500 BCE). Its type-site, Teleilat Ghassul (Teleilat el-Ghassul, Tulaylat al-Ghassul), is located in the eastern Jordan Valley near the northern edge of the Dead Sea, in modern Jordan. The Ghassulian stage was characterized by small hamlet settlements of mixed farming peoples, who had immigrated from the north and settled in the southern Levant – today’s Jordan, Israel, and Palestine.” ref

“People of the Beersheba Culture (a Ghassulian subculture) lived in underground dwellings – a unique phenomenon in the archaeological history of the region – or in houses that were trapezoid-shaped and built of mud-brick. Those were often built partially underground (on top of collapsed underground dwellings) and were covered with remarkable polychrome wall paintings. Their pottery was highly elaborate, including footed bowls and horn-shaped drinking goblets, indicating the cultivation of wine. Several samples display the use of sculptural decoration or of a reserved slip (a clay and water coating partially wiped away while still wet). The Ghassulians were a Chalcolithic culture as they used stone tools but also smelted copper. Funerary customs show evidence that they buried their dead in stone dolmens and also practiced secondary burial.” ref

“Settlements belonging to the Ghassulian culture have been identified at numerous other sites in what is today southern Israel, especially in the region of Beersheba, where elaborate underground dwellings have been excavated. The Ghassulian culture correlates closely with the Amratian of Egypt and also seems to have affinities (e.g., the distinctive churns, or “bird vases”) with early Minoan culture in Crete.” ref

“Ghassulian, a name applied to a Chalcolithic culture of the southern Levant, is derived from the eponymic site of Teleilat (el) Ghassul, northeast of the Dead Sea in the Great Rift Valley. The name has been used as a synonym for Chalcolithic in general and sometimes for late phases, associated with late strata at that site and other sites considered to be contemporary. More recently it has come to be associated with a regional cultural phenomenon (defined by sets of artifacts) in what is today central and southern Israel, the Palestinian territories in the West Bank, and the central area of western Jordan; all either well-watered or semi-arid zones.[dubiousdiscuss] Other phases of the Chalcolithic, associated with different regions of the Levant, are Qatifian and Timnian (arid zones) and Golanian. The use of the name varies from scholar to scholar.” ref


“The main culture of the Chalcolithic era in Israel is the Ghassulian culture, named after the name of its type-site, Teleilat el-Ghassul, located in the eastern part of the Jordan Rift Valley, opposite Jericho. Afterward, many additional settlements, located in other archaeological sites, were identified as Ghassulian settlements. All these settlements had been built in areas that had not been previously inhabited, mainly on the outskirts of populated areas. Thus, Chalcolithic settlements have been discovered in the Jordan Rift Valley, in the Israeli coastal plain, and on its fringes, in the Judaean Desert, and in the northern and western Negev. On the other hand, it seems that people of the Chalcolithic period did not settle in the mountainous regions of Israel or in northern Israel. Several facts allow us to assume that the carriers of this culture were immigrants who had brought their own culture with them: all excavated sites represent an advanced stage of this culture, whereas no evidence of its nascent stages has been discovered, so far, anywhere in the region. This culture’s characteristics indicate they had connections with neighboring regions and that their culture had not evolved in the southern Levant. Their origins are not known.” ref

“It is hard to determine the time of the Ghassulian settlement in the region, and whether or not they had evolved out of local, pre-Ghassulian, populations (such as the Bsorian culture). It could generally be said that most of these settlements date to the 2nd half of the 5th millennium BCE, and that they usually existed for only a short period of time, with the exception of Teleilat el-Ghassul, where 8 successive layers of occupation from the Chalcolithic have been excavated, of which 6 are considered Ghassulian and the earlier, pre-Ghassulian, layers are thought to belong to the Besorian culture. The total depth of these layers is 4.5 meters.” ref

Ghassulian Copper Industry

“The earliest evidence to the existence of a copper-industry in Israel was discovered in Bir abu Matar, Near Be’er Sheba, which specialized in copper production and the casting of copper tools and artifacts. No copper ore is naturally available in the area of Beersheba, so it appears that the ore was brought here from Wadi Feynan, in southern Jordan, and possibly also from Timna, where an ancient copper mine was discovered. It was attributed by Beno Rothenberg to the Chalcolithic era.” ref

“The Ghassulian, if used as a synonym for the entire Chalcolithic period and not, as more appropriately, just to the Late Chalcolithic, followed a Late Neolithic period and was succeeded by an Early Bronze I (EB I) period. Little is understood of the transition from the latest Chalcolithic to the earliest EB I, but there was apparently some transition of ceramic, flint-knapping, and metallurgical traditions, especially in the southern regions of the southern Levant. The dates for Ghassulian are dependent upon 14C (radiocarbon) determinations, which suggest that the typical later Ghassulian began sometime around the mid-5th millennium and ended ca. 3800 BCE. The transition from Late Ghassulian to EB I seems to have been ca. 3800-3500 BCE. The Issue of the nature of the transition from the Late Neolithic to the Early Chalcolithic is re-examined in this article […] The Late Neolithic assemblages are to be closely identified with earlier Neolithic norms, whereas the Early Chalcolithic assemblages display all the hallmarks of the later Classic Ghassulian culture. — S.J. Bourke” ref

The Great Steppe

“In physical geography, a steppe is an ecoregion characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes. Steppe biomes may include:

“The prairie of North America (especially the shortgrass and mixed prairie) is an example of a steppe, though it is not usually called such. A steppe may be semi-arid or covered with grass or with shrubs or with both, depending on the season and latitude. The term “steppe climate” denotes the climate encountered in regions too dry to support a forest but not dry enough to be a desert. Steppe soils are typically of the chernozem type.” ref

“Steppes are usually characterized by a semi-arid or continental climate. Extremes can be recorded in the summer of up to 45 °C (115 °F) and in winter, −55 °C (−65 °F). Besides this major seasonal difference, fluctuations between day and night are also very great. In both the highlands of Mongolia and northern Nevada, 30 °C (85 °F) can be reached during the day with sub-freezing readings at night. Mid-latitude steppes feature hot summers and cold winters, averaging 250–510 mm (10–20 in) of precipitation per year. Precipitation level alone does not define a steppe climate; potential evapotranspiration also plays a role in the trees origin.” ref

Two types

“Southern Siberian steppe: windbreaker trees in the wintertime. Steppe can be classified by climate:

  • Temperate steppe: the “true” steppe, found in continental areas of the world; they can be further subdivided, as in the Rocky Mountains Steppes
  • Subtropical steppe: a similar association of plants that can be found in the driest areas with a Mediterranean-like climate; it usually has a short wet period

It can also be classified by vegetation type, e.g. shrub-steppe and alpine-steppe.” ref

The Eurasian Grass-Steppe of the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands had a role in the spread of the horse, the wheel, and the Indo-European languages. The Indo-European expansion and diverse invasions of horse archer civilizations of the steppe eventually led to the rise of Mycenaean Greece by amalgamation of Indo-Europeans with the autochthonous pre-Greek population and also its destruction during the Dorian invasion in the Late Bronze Age collapse, followed by the demise of the Achaeans, the spread of the Sea Peoples, and eventually the rise of Archaic and ultimately Classical Greece.” ref


5,000-Year-Old Grave Reveals Mass Murder of a Bronze Age Family

“All 15 people found in a Bronze Age mass grave in southern Poland were killed by a blow to the head, yet their bodies were buried together with great care and consideration. Genetic evidence now suggests these individuals were members of the same extended family—a finding that’s casting new light on a tumultuous era in European prehistory. This tragic grave was discovered near the southern Polish village of Koszyce in 2011. The grave, radiocarbon dated to between 2880 and 2776 BCE, contained the remains of 15 men, women, and children, along with valuable grave goods. All skeletons exhibited severe cranial trauma. The reason for the killings could not be determined, with archaeologists at the time suggesting these individuals were murdered during a raid on their settlement.” ref

“To shed more light onto this mystery, a team of researchers from the University of Copenhagen, the University of Aarhus, and the Archaeological Museum in Poznan, Poland, conducted a genetic analysis of the remains. The results, published late last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests all but one of these individuals were closely related, and that the individuals were positioned in the grave according to their kin relationships. All 15 skulls exhibited fatal cranial fractures. No defensive wounds, such as injuries to the upper limbs, were detected, which suggests these individuals were captured and executed, and not killed in hand-to-hand combat, according to the new study.” ref

Yes, China Does Have 5,000 Years of History, 15-Year Study Confirms

Chinese Women Soldiers: A History of 5,000 Years

“A dozen major dynasties and a similar number of minor dynasties ended through military actions. One major difference between China and other cultures is that war has never been glorified in China with heroic warriors like Caesar or Napoleon. Similar to other societies, war in China has been primarily a masculine activity. Only occasionally have Chinese women been recorded as participants. According to a consensus of mainland Chinese scholars, the 5,000 years of Chinese history can be divided into three major periods.” ref

“However, women actually appear in Chinese military history as early as Sun Tzu’s time (496-453 BCE), when King Wu’s palace concubines were turned into soldiers as a demonstration of the effects of discipline (Military History of China Compilation Group 1986), since Chinese military thinkers believe that it is discipline and training that make good soldiers.  According to a consensus of mainland Chinese scholars, the 5,000 years of Chinese history can be divided into three major periods: the Ancient time periods thousand years ago to CE 1840; the Post Opium Wartime period-1840 to 1949; and the Modern time period-1949 to present. This article will give an overview of Chinese women in the military during these three periods.” ref

Ancient Period 

“Nineteen historical women warriors are identified by Li for the ancient period. All nineteen are either commanders of armies or leaders of peasant uprisings. In addition to these historical women soldiers, there are many fictional women warriors and female knights-errant 2. Both in ancient and modern times, numerous literary and artistic works portray these historical and fictional women warriors. Chinese cultural heritage includes legends of women soldiers. No matter how she is educated or where she is located, all Chinese women know the names of such heroines as Mu Lan Hua or Hong Yu Liang.” ref

“The first Chinese woman general, Hao Fu,3 appeared about 3,200 years ago.4 One oracle inscription carved on animal bones describes her as a commanding marshal of over 13,000 soldiers, who went on a punitive expedition to Qiang Kingdom; on another expedition, a male general, Gao Hou, was under her command.5 Two other women generals were of minor nationalities: Madame Xi of the Li nationality and Madame Wa Shi of Zhuang nationality, whose victories aided the ruling emperor.” ref

“However, the most famous women generals were Liang Yu Qin and Hong Yu Liang. Qin is known for her many victories in both national defense and the suppression of internal uprisings. The last emperor of the Ming Dynasty wrote several poems to praise her.7 For many years, Liang and her husband Marshal Shi Zhong Han were stationed in border areas. Liang was known for fighting at the side of her husband in many battles. In 1130, her husband’s troops engaged the enemy in a major campaign at a place called Gold Mountain [Jin Shan] along the Yang Zi River. Liang beat the battle drum and used flag lights to guide the army. She was not afraid of being killed by the enemies’ arrows and stones, and eventually, their 8,000 troops defeated the enemy’s 10,000. Until today, the story “beat battle drum at Gold Mountain” [Ji Gu Zhan Jin Shan] is still used to mobilize Chinese women for national self-defense.” ref

“As the first woman leader of a peasant uprising, Mu Lu [Lu’s mother] was the only woman who took part in military operations simply because of a personal reason: to bring revenge on a bad county governor who had wrongly executed her son. Another peasant leader, Shuo Zhen Chen, was the first and the only Chinese woman to designate herself the emperor after launching a peasant uprising. Her peasant army occupied most of Jiang Xi province, but in the end she was captured by the official army and executed. Three of the six women uprising leaders, Shuo Zhen Chen, Sai Er Tang, and Cong Er Wang, used religious activities and symbols to mobilize people. Both Tang and Wang relied on a Buddhist religion named “White Lotus,” which developed during the Ming and Qing, the last two feudal dynasties. This pattern was also observed among some women warriors’ behavior in the Boxer Movement and Tai Ping Tian Guo Movement.” ref

“Most famous as defenders of homeland or home city were Mu Lan Hua and Guan Niang Xun. Hua is the earliest legendary woman warrior in Chinese culture and was recently verified by various scholars as a real woman living during the Han Dynasty (206 BCE- CE 220). She is recorded in a name book compiled at the end of Jin Dynasty around the year CE 419. Hua’s deed inspired the largest number of literary and artistic works about Chinese heroines. These peasant heroines either refused to be promoted after victory or their participation in military operations was comparatively shorter than that of women generals. Most were involved in only one major combat.” ref

“All women warriors in Figure 1 are regarded as heroic combatants. Bravery, strong mastery of martial art, and unique leadership are common characteristics of these heroines. Most have little if any military training, but they practiced and mastered martial art since childhood, contrary to the common behavioral expectation for their gender. Observing strict discipline, sharing hardships with soldiers, and having clever tactics are common descriptions of the women warriors’ leadership. Two common patterns of the ancient heroines’ participation in military operations are apparent. One is a crisis of group survival in which the country or city is under attack, and which therefore justifies the warfare; second is a key male family member with military commanding status is absent, dead, or disabled or has been involved in the same uprising as the woman warrior.” ref

“Hua, for example, disguised as a man, joins the army because her father is sick and cannot go to war. Xun, at the age of 13, breaks out of the encirclement to get the relief troops because her father has to remain in command of the defense and her scholarly brothers do not have skills in the martial arts. Princess Ping Yang raises an army and joins her father’s uprising to keep her whole family from being executed by the emperor in power. As a governor’s concubine, Madam Huan Hua leads the defense of her city because the governor is away. Both Bi and Shen launch counterattacks on the enemies, not only for the defense of their cities but also to get back their fathers’ dead bodies. Women leaders of peasant uprisings fight shoulder to shoulder with their male family members. All of the women generals have highly positioned male family members. Given the patriarchal structure and feudal culture of ancient Chinese society, it is understandable that such strong family ties to male relatives are prominent in the women’s actions. The only Chinese women warriors who act independently of their families are those who are female knights-errant.” ref

“Ancient Chinese heroines serve as an everlasting inspiration to Chinese women. The loyalty of the ancient women soldiers is emphasized in both history books and artistic works. These women exhibit either strong loyalty to their families or the emperors or the causes of rebelling peasants. Their nobility is shown through loyalty to the group. The legendary figures in Chinese history and their participation in military operations during crises in group survival encourage similar behavior for Chinese women in modern times.” ref

Post Opium War Time Period, 1840-1949

“Chinese women warriors were very active during the eighteen-year Tai Ping Tian Guo Movement (1850-1868), China’s largest and longest peasant uprising. Thousands of women officers and soldiers, organized in gender-segregated battalions, engaged in a wide range of military activities, including combat. Similarly, women also participated in the national revolution of 1911, which overthrew the last emperor of the Qing Dynasty. Jin Qiu, the most famous female revolutionary of this period, organized an unsuccessful military uprising in Shaoxin, Zhe Jiang Province, for which she was captured and executed.” ref

“In the early years of the Chinese communist movement (1927-1935), women again served in large numbers in a wide range of combat and noncombat military roles. About 3,000 women are recorded as participating in the thirteen-month Long March of over 12,500 kilometers in 1934-35 and in over 500 military engagements with the nationalist Guomintang and local warlords, after the Red Army broke through the Nationalist siege of the Jiangxi Soviet base. The 2,000-member Women’s Independence Brigade, a logistical unit, carried the machines and equipment necessary for keeping the Red Army supplied. It also includes a 500-person Women’s Engineer Battalion, responsible for carrying the hard currency (much of it in precious metal) for the Red Army. Women in the Fourth Front Red Army also carried litter and built roads and bridges. The Women’s Independence Brigade engaged in several battles as part of the West Wing Army and suffered with them in a major defeat. Large numbers of women were casualties, and the women captured became the spoils of war for Guomintang soldiers and officers. The 32 women soldiers in the First Front Army who were the wives of such leaders as Mao Ze Dong and Zhou En Lai and the women who served as ministers of the Soviets in various provinces survived the Long March.” ref

“The Central Work Regiment, which engaged in propaganda work, contained twenty-four women. Fewer than twenty of the women who served in the Second and Sixth Red Army Corps as confidential secretaries, nurses, cooks, and commanders have thus far been identified. One of these women, Zhen Li, was the only woman general to emerge during this period (All-China Women’s Federation 1986). Toward the end of the Long March, the gender-segregated units were disbanded, and the remaining women integrated into other units. Smaller numbers of women then served in other military elements of the communist movement during this period. Recently, 149 women who survived the Long March have been identified by researchers. The period following the Long March from 1935 to 1945 is known as the Yan An and was a time of recuperation and reorganization of the Red Army. In August 1937, the Red Army became the Eighth Route Army of the National Revolution Army and, under an agreement with the Guomintang, formed a united Anti-Japanese Front. It was during this period that women were relegated to support functions. The few women remaining in the Red Army were joined by thousands of young anti-Japanese women in noncombat auxiliary roles of nursing, communications, administration, propaganda, and logistics.” ref

“Many received training in political, medical, or art schools at Yan An and participated actively in economic production. This pattern of mobilizing women in auxiliary support roles continues through the Liberation War period (1945-1949), during which the Eighth Route Army officially becomes the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). In addition to the women cadres within the PLA, women militia and thousands of women in the Liberated Areas joined in by playing important roles in combat support, pushing wheelbarrows full of gasoline, food, and ammunition into battle areas and carrying wounded soldiers back to the rear. They also supervised and trained prisoners of war. Still, other supportive roles included making shoes and building bridges and roads. In Shandong Province, there was an especially heroic example of women’s service when hundreds of village women formed a human bridge in icy waters at night for the PLA to cross. Since its early days, women in the Guomindang army have played supportive but minimal roles in the nationalist forces.” ref

Modern Times, 1949-present 

After the communist victory in 1949, the PLA became primarily a force for counterinsurgency, for postwar reconstruction of the societal infrastructure, and for the mobilization of the peasantry for land reform. Much of the military cadre was demobilized and assumed civilian administrative positions. In 1951, despite an engagement of Chinese combat troops in the Korean War, 150,000 women cadres (8 percent of the total cadre corps) were assigned to civilian positions. Chinese women soldiers did go to war during the Korean War as cultural workers, nurses, doctors, and telephone operators. These PLA women were ostracized as were most Chinese POWs when they returned home.” ref

“In 1955, with the hostilities in Korea over, the postwar Soviet model of military organization which minimized the role of women in the military was implemented and a major demobilization of military women occurred8. As many as 764,000 women (14.5 percent of the total) were assigned to civilian positions (All-China Women’s Federation 1986). Since that time, China’s military operations have primarily been conflicts over international boundaries,9 and women have not been in combat roles in any of these conflicts. Only during the last conflict in 1979 did women serve in the combat zone as doctors and nurses, telecommunication personnel, and cultural workers.” ref

Today’s Women in the Chinese Military

Today, Chinese women comprise about 4.5 percent of total military personnel in the PLA.10 Serving in the military enjoys high popularity among young Chinese women because it opens opportunities for education and training, better jobs in the future, possible residence in cities, and higher status in society.11 Nearly all women soldiers serve in traditional female roles or in military support positions and are concentrated in headquarters, hospitals, research institutions, and communication facilities. There they serve as medical workers, administrative personnel, communications specialists, logistical support staff, political and propaganda workers, scientific researchers, and technicians. There are no women combat pilots and no women in ground combat troops; only recently have women been assigned to military medical ships.12 Although they are in positions of relative prestige within the military, women do not have equal chances of promotion.” ref

“In the 1980s, there was a shift from Soviet to American influence on Chinese military organization. many policies and new regulations were developed in the process of professionalization. But women remain primarily in the roles that they occupied in the recent past. There are no special policies or regulations regarding women in the military, partially due to the persistent emphasis on equal treatment advocated by the Party. Two changes, however, are worthy of note. First, some previously military noncombat roles filled by women have been made civilian roles. Second, with the reestablishment of ranks within the PLA (a form of stratification that had been regarded previously as unsocialist), women received officer rank, including eight women major generals who immediately became public examples of social equality.” ref

“If China follows a pattern observed in western industrialized nations, trends toward gender equality in other spheres of life, such as civilian work and family life, may lead eventually to the widening of opportunities in the military where national legislation prohibiting gender discrimination in employment has removed gender-based exclusions from military assignments. But these changes have occurred in a climate of declining numbers of men eligible for military service (while the armed forces remained large) and cultural values fostering gender role changes. Judging from historical precedent in China and other nations, it is unlikely that women will be incorporated into the Chinese armed forces in large numbers or with greatly expanded roles until they have achieved greater equality in other areas of life and/or there is a national crisis which creates a shortage of men qualified for military service.” ref

1 “Six of them were officially designated as generals; another six women warriors were leaders of peasant uprisings. Only 5 percent were women combatants, who were without official rank but who had their deeds recorded in history books.” ref

2 “They were “women social bandits” (May 1985, 185), who single-handedly tried to correct wrongs in society by use of stealth, cunning, and violence.” ref

3 “All Chinese names in this article are ordered according to Western-style, which puts the last name at the end. The surname goes with a title, e.g., Madame Xi.” ref

4 “Among inscriptions on bones or tortoise shells which have been verified as carved in middle and late Shang dynasty (16th to 11th century BCE), Hao Fu’s name has been found over 250 times. Most of these oracle inscriptions expressed King Ding Wu’s concern about Hao Fu’s well-being and health. Hao Fu is the first documented at this time, but additional discoveries may reveal women, generals, and soldiers, at earlier times as archeological work is continuing in the ancient tombs.” ref

5 “Inscriptions not only recorded how many places she had conquered, but also her various strategies and tactics. In addition to over 600 jade wares and 7,000 seashell currency discovered in her tomb in 1976, there were two bronze hatchets, which were symbols of her status as a military commander and her ruling power in that period. After Hao Fu’s death, her husband, King Ding Wu, continued practicing divination and offering sacrifices to her, asking her spirit in heaven to guide the army and to guarantee victory for his kingdom.” ref

6 “Madame Xi was promoted to general because of her assistance to the Emperor of Sui (A.D. 581-618) in suppressing several uprisings that occurred in her time. Madame Wa Shi led troops to cross several thousand li (Chinese miles) for the defense of Shanghai in March 1555, and rescued a Marshal of the Ming Dynasty from the enemy’s ambush. She also had a big victory at a place near Su Zhou, Zhe Jiang province, where the name of the place was changed to “Victory Port” to memorialize her.” ref

7 “Her promotion to general was after her husband’s miserable death in jail caused by a court eunuch’s slander.” ref

8 “Despite negative reactions from veteran women soldiers (a small proportion of whom were able to stay in the military because of familial or personal contacts or because as women professionals their skills were needed), as part of the process of transforming the PLA from an irregular revolutionary army to a conventional military force, 764,00 women cadres (14.5 percent of the total cadre force) were assigned to civilian positions (All-China Women’s Federation 1986).” ref

9 “These international conflicts are: the Sino-India boundary conflict in 1962; the Sino-Soviet boundary conflict in 1969; the South China Sea conflict with Vietnam in 1974; and the Sino-Vietnam boundary conflict in 1979.” ref

10 “A source stated that 136,000 women worked in the PLA at the end of 1987. Among them, 104,000 were officers (76.5 percent of the total military women), and 32,000 were enlisted women (23.5 percent). In proportion to the total number of the 46,876,000 female staff and workers (not including female labor in rural areas) at the end of 1986, military women only account for 0.3 percent of the total female employees. But compared with the total of 8.7 million women officials in the country, women officers account for 11.95 percent.” ref

11 “Talented girls have more chances to be recognized and recruited by the military. Through the military cultural troops and military art college, girls as young as twelve years old start their prolonged training within the military to become future artists with military rank. It is also the case for military athletes. The military women’s volleyball team and basketball team are the best teams in China and have produced several cohorts of players for the national teams.” ref

12 “From 1951 to 1987, the Chinese Air Force trained 208 women pilots of five cohorts; 55 of the first cohort graduated in 1952. At present, 37 women of the sixth cohort are being trained in Northeast China. None of them has been assigned to combat, although a few of them have become test pilots.” ref

Victims of an ancient sacrifice: 4,000-year-old mass grave containing the skulls of 80 young women is discovered in China

  • “The skulls were found in a mass grave at the Shimao Ruins, the site of a neolithic stone city in the      northern province of Shaanxi, China
  • Archaeologists believe the bones could be linked to the founding ceremony of the ancient city, 4,000 years ago
  • The 80 skulls include 40 that the Shaanxi provincial government said had been discovered at the site last      yearref

“Archaeologists in China have unearthed the skulls of more than 80 young women who may have been sacrificed more than 4,000 years ago. The skulls were found in what appears to have been a mass grave at the Shimao Ruins, the site of a neolithic stone city in the northern province of Shaanxi, China. · The women’s bodies were not present, suggesting they were victims of human sacrifice and experts believe they could even be related to the founding ceremony of the ancient city, according to state media. The ancient buildings in the Shimao Ruins, the site of a neolithic stone city in Shenmu county, northern China’s Shaanxi province. Archaeologists in China have unearthed the skulls of more than 80 young women who may have been sacrificed more than 4,000 years ago, state media reported.” ref


  • “The Shimao Ruins is the site of a neolithic stone city in the northern province of Shaanxi, China.
  • The site was first discovered in 1976 when archaeologists thought it was a small town, but more of the city has since been recovered.
  • Measuring 4 square kilometers, it is the largest of its kind in Neolithic China, China.org reported.
  • They believe it had ‘magnificent’ stone walls for inner and outer structures.
  • Experts have also discovered large quantities of precious carved jade, which indicates it was a wealthy and important city at the time.
  • Archaeologists have also found a mural at the site, which they think could be among the oldest in China at around 4,000 years old.” ref

“The archaeologists believe the skulls were ‘likely to be related to the construction of the city wall’ in ‘ancient religious activities or foundation ceremonies, before construction began,’ the official news agency Xinhua reported. There may have been an outbreak of mass violence or ethnic conflict in the region at the time since ‘ancient people were prone to use their enemies or captives as sacrifices,’ it added.” ref

“The discovery is not the first instance of researchers unearthing remains related to human sacrifice in early China, Channel News Asia reported. Kings and emperors were regularly buried along with their servants and concubines, who were sometimes killed first and on other occasions buried alive. The Shimao Ruins cover more than four square kilometers and were discovered in 1976. The 80 skulls include 40 that the Shaanxi provincial government said had been discovered at the site last year. The government said the skulls were ‘placed in a certain regular pattern but without obvious traces of hole pigging for placement’.” ref

The skulls were found in what appears to have been a mass grave at the Shimao Ruins, the site of a neolithic stone city in the northern province of Shaanxi, China

“Sun Zhouyong, deputy head of the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology, told state broadcaster CCTV that the initial batch ‘show signs of being hit and burned’. ‘This collective burial might also have something to do with the founding ceremony of the city,’ he said. Archaeologists have found more than 100 remains of murals as well as large amounts of jade ware at the site of the ancient city, which sits in the Yellow River basin and is believed to date back to 2,000 BCE.” ref

“They also discovered the pieces of murals, some of which are still on the walls and are composed of geometric patterns in red, yellow, black, and orange, with raw products sourced from local iron mines. The largest piece of mural measures around 30cm squared. In 2005 archaeologists at Hongjiang in the central province of Hunan found an altar devoted to human sacrifice as well as the skeleton of one victim. A separate altar was used for sacrificing animals at the 7,000-year-old site, which is believed to be the earliest human sacrificial site ever found in the country.” ref

‘Israel’s ancient NYC’: 5,000-year-old Canaanite megalopolis may rewrite history

“Uncovered in northern Israel, Ein Esur, largest Early Bronze Age settlement ever excavated here, set to ‘change forever what we know about the emergence of urbanization in the entire area’. HARISH, northern Israel — A massive 5,000-year-old metropolis that housed some 6,000 residents has been uncovered alongside Israel’s newest city, Harish, during new roadworks. The 160-acre (over 650 dunam) city is the largest Early Bronze Age settlement excavated in Israel, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Sunday. “It is much larger than any known site in the land of Israel — and outside the land of Israel — in the region of Jordan, Lebanon, southern Syria,” said excavation co-director Dr. Yitzhak Paz in an IAA video.” ref

“In addition, just ahead of the construction of a new interchange over the En Esur (Ein Asawir) archaeological site, IAA archaeologists also discovered an earlier, 7,000-year-old Chalcolithic settlement under several of the 5,000-year-old structures. “This is a huge city – a megalopolis in relation to the Early Bronze Age, where thousands of inhabitants, who made their living from agriculture, lived and traded with different regions and even with different cultures and kingdoms in the area… This is the Early Bronze Age New York of our region; a cosmopolitan and planned city,” said excavation directors Itai Elad, Paz, and Dr. Dina Shalem in an IAA statement.” ref

“Salvage excavations have been taking place at the site for the past two and a half years, financed by Netivei Israel – the National Transport Infrastructure Company Ltd. Over 5,000 high school students and volunteers from the area have participated in them. Due to the importance of the site, Netivei Israel has significantly increased the height of the planned interchange and will preserve the excavations through high-tech documentation and physical conservation. The digs have revealed an Early Bronze Age (end of the 4th millennium BCE) planned city located near Wadi Ara, near two water springs, in the Haifa district of northern Israel. According to Paz, the land is fertile for agriculture and is close to important, central trade routes. The ancient settlement contained public and private buildings and areas, streets and alleys, and was surrounded by a fortification wall.” ref

“The excavation at this site revealed two main settlements,” explained Shalem in an IAA video. “The earliest one is about 7,000 years old. It’s a very large agricultural settlement. Two thousand years later, another settlement became one of the first cities known in this area of the world.” The layout of the city, said Elad, the third co-director, indicates it was very thoughtfully planned. During the excavation, the team discovered a very large public building that was unlike any of the others. It was, said Elad, most probably a temple or a shrine, inside which was found an area containing burnt animal bones, presumably for sacrifices. In the temple, the courtyard is a large stone basin for liquids, which the archaeologists assume was also used during religious rituals. These findings allow us to look beyond the material into the spiritual life of the large community that lived at the site,” said the archaeologists.” ref

“Among the interesting artifacts revealed at the site was a cylindrical stamp impression of a man holding his hands up in the air, as well as several figurines of people and animals and tools imported from Egypt. Flint tools, millions of pottery sherds, and basalt stone vessels were also found. “These surprising findings allow us, for the first time, to define the cultural characteristics of the inhabitants of this area in ancient times,” according to the IAA statement. It is during this era, said the statement, that Canaan’s populations moved from rural to mostly urban environments. According to the archaeologists, alongside the more sophisticated construction and city planning, there had to have been complex governance in the site as well.” ref

“Thousands of youth and volunteers participated in the excavation at the Early Bronze Age excavation site near modern Harish. For the 5,000 Israeli pupils and young adults — Jews and Arabs — who participated in the excavations, their firsthand knowledge and experiences may also change their perspective and their connection to the land of Israel. As history books are rewritten, the students were on the frontlines of early research. The study of this site will change forever what we know about the emergence [and] rise of urbanization in the land of Israel and in the whole region,” said Paz. “And it means that what we know now will change what is written today in the traditional books when people read about the archaeology of Israel.” ref

The most violent group of people who ever lived: Horse-riding Yamnaya tribe who used their huge height and muscular build to brutally murder and invade their way across Europe than 4,000 years ago

  • “Yamnaya people dominated Europe from between 5,000 and 4,000 years ago
  • They had nutritionally rich diets and were tall, muscular, and skilled horse riders
  • It is believed they exploited a continent recovering from disease and death
  • They spread rapidly, adapting and massacring their way throughout Europe
  • Slaughtered Neolithic men in prehistoric genocide to ensure their DNA survived
  • They made their way to Britain and within a few generations there were no remains of the previous inhabitants who built Stonehenge in the genetic recordref

“A brutish tribe of people who lived in the Neolithic era more than 4,000 years ago is being touted as the most violent and aggressive society to ever live. A growing body of evidence is convincing archaeologists that the Yamnaya society ruthlessly massacred opposing societies. It is believed the primitive society capitalized on disease, warfare, and famine and unceremoniously swept through Europe, destroying entire civilizations and leaving destruction in their wake. DNA evidence from several prehistoric burial sites has revealed hoards of these tall, muscular and violent warriors would overwhelm other societies on horseback. They would murder men and sire their own children so that within a few generations the presence of the previous societies is all but eradicated.DNA evidence from several prehistoric burial sites has revealed hoards of these tall, muscular and violent warriors would overwhelm other societies on horseback. They started in the European steppe and ended up conquering most of Europe and preserving their own genetic lineage through brutal genocide of rival males.” ref

“Yamnaya people interbred with the Corded Ware people, who made the pictured pottery, in central Europe, with later generations inheriting a significant amount of Yamnaya DNA. Yamnaya people arrived in Eastern Europe approximately 5,000 years ago and their culture and customs spread rapidly to both the east and the west. They then interbred with the Corded Ware people in central Europe, with later generations inheriting a significant amount of Yamnaya DNA. Environments in these two locations were vastly different at this time in history with the European steppe and its shrubland giving way to forests and vast areas of greenery. Evidence of genetic remnants of these people so far away from their origin sparked confusion and outrage among many experts, who scrambled for an explanation to explain how the tribe moved so swiftly across the continent.” ref

Not only were the people spreading, but so were their customs.

“The Yamnaya buried their dead in easily identifiable ways, in ‘pit graves’ and not the common communal graves of the time. Wooden beams covered the grave and a mound of Earth, known as a kurgan, was created atop the burial site. Artifacts and remains of the Yamnaya, have been found dotted around many other areas of the continent. Some experts claim the presence of their technology and rituals is proof of them preceding their actual migration but others claim they exploited a time when the rest of Europe was weak and vulnerable.” ref

For Ancient Farmers Facing Climate Change, More Grazing Meant More Resilience

“Humans are remarkably adaptable, and our ancestors have survived challenges like the changing climate in the past. Now, research is providing insight into how people who lived over 5,000 years ago managed to adapt. Madelynn von Baeyer Ph.D., now at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, UConn Associate Professor of Anthropology Alexia Smith, and Professor Sharon Steadman from The State University of New York College at Cortland recently published a paper in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports looking at how people living in what is now Turkey adapted agricultural practices to survive as conditions became more arid.” ref

“The work was conducted as von Baeyer’s doctoral research at Çadır Höyük, a site located in Turkey that is unique because it has been continuously occupied for thousands of years. “I was interested in studying how plant use was impacted by changing cultural patterns. This fit Steadman’s research goals for Çadır Höyük really well,” says von Baeyer. Smith explains the site is situated in an area with rich agricultural and pasture land that sustained generations through time. “People would build a mud-brick structure, and over the years the structure is either abandoned or collapses and the people just build on top of it,” Smith says. “Eventually these villages look like they have been built on hills, but they’re really just occupations going up and up.” ref

“Just as the occupants built new layers up, the archaeologists excavate down to get a glimpse of history and how lives changed over the millennia. Within the layers, archaeobotanists like von Baeyer and Smith look for ancient plant remains; for instance, intentionally or unintentionally charred plant matter. Though wood was often used, much can be learned by looking at the remains of fires fueled by livestock dung, says Smith: “The dung contains seeds that give clues about what the animals were eating.” Von Baeyer explains the research process: “Archaeobotanical research has three, vastly different, main stages: data collection, identification, and data analysis. Data collection is in the field, on an archaeological dig, getting soil samples and extracting the seeds from the dirt; identification is in the lab, identifying all the plant remains you collected from the field; and data analysis to tell a full story. I love every step.” ref

“The focus was on a time period called the Late Chalcolithic, roughly 3700-3200 years before the common era (BCE). By referencing paleo-climatic data and Steadman’s very detailed phasing at Çadır Höyük, the researchers were able to discern how lifestyles changed as the climate rapidly shifted in what is called the 5.2 kya event, an extended period of aridity and drought at the end of the fourth millennium BCE. With climate change, there are lots of strategies that can be used to adapt says Smith, “They could have intensified, diversified, intensified, or abandoned the region entirely. In this case, they intensified the area of land used and diversified the herds of animals they relied upon.” Zooarchaeologists on the site examined the bones to further demonstrate the shift in the types of animals herded, while the seeds from the dung-fueled fires at the dig site gave clues to what the animals were eating.” ref

“Smith says, “We know they were herding cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs, and we saw a shift to animals that are grazers. They all have a different diet, and by diversifying you are maximizing the range of potential calories that can eventually be consumed by humans.” By employing this mixed strategy, the people of Çadır Höyük were ensuring their survival as the climate became increasingly dry. Smith says that at the same time they continued to grow wheat, barley, chickpeas, and lentils, among other crops for humans, while the animals grazed on crops not suitable for human consumption—a strategy to maximize resources and resilience. Von Baeyer says she was not expecting to make an argument about climate and the environment at the outset of the study.” ref


“Arrive at the European steppe in the south-east of the continent 5,000 years ago. Reach the far more central areas which are vastly different and covered in forests in a mere 100 years. They interbred with the Corded Ware people.” ref

Bell Beaker people appear in Iberia at this time in Iberia.

“Bell Beaker culture spreads eastwards over the next few centuries and is embraced by the Corded are people who carry the Yamnaya DNA. These then interbreed and the so-called Yamnays Beakers traveled to Britain using sea-faring knowledge garnered from the Iberian natives. They conquer Britain and within a handful of generations, the people who built Stonehenge are eradicated form the genetic record. Various pieces of evidence from the archaeological record, DNA and isotope analysis, and even pollen from ancient sites has found the centuries before the dominance of the Yamnaya people to be a time of great suffering. Vast mega-settlements of the previous era had been razed to the ground after becoming a festering pit for disease and poverty. The earliest known relative of the black death was discovered dating back 5,700 years. ‘These mega-settlements were beginning to be abandoned and burned down a little after 5700 years ago,’ Professor Kristian Kristiansen at the University of Gothenburg told New Scientist.ref

‘By 5400 years ago, they were gone.’

“Such was the devastation and long-lasting impact of these disease-riddled settlements, evidence of the black death was found in Scandinavia 400 years after the last one was abandoned and destroyed. The remaining people to survive this bleak and elongated period of history were likely small and weakened from the ordeal. Carbon dating of a range of products, including arrowheads, bell-shaped pots (pictured) found the Iberian civilization known as the Bell beaker people collided with the Yamnaya descendants.” ref

Britain began the move from ‘hunter-gatherer’ to farming and settlements about 7,000 years ago as part of the ‘Neolithic Revolution’

“The Neolithic Revolution was the world’s first verifiable revolution in agriculture. It began in Britain between about 5000-4500 BCE but spread across Europe from origins in Syria and Iraq between about 11,000-9,000 BCE. The period saw the widespread transition of many disparate human cultures from nomadic hunting and gathering practices to ones of farming and building small settlements. Stonehenge, the most famous prehistoric structure in Europe, possibly the world, was built by Neolithic people, and later added to during the early Bronze Age. The revolution was responsible for turning small groups of travelers into settled communities who built villages and towns.” ref

Some cultures used irrigation and made forest clearings to better their farming techniques.

“Others stored food for times of hunger, and farming eventually created different roles and divisions of labor in societies as well as trading economies. In the UK, the period was triggered by a huge migration or folk-movement from across the Channel. The Neolithic Revolution saw humans in Britain move from groups of nomadic hunter-gatherers to settled communities. Some of the earliest monuments in Britain are Neolithic structures, including Silbury Hill in Wiltshire. Today, prehistoric monuments in the UK span from the time of the Neolithic farmers to the invasion of the Romans in CE 43. Many of them are looked after by English Heritage and range from standing stones to massive stone circles, and from burial mounds to hillforts.” ref

“Stonehenge, the most famous prehistoric structure in Europe, possibly the world, was built by Neolithic people, and later finished during the Bronze Age. Neolithic structures were typically used for ceremonies, religious feasts, and as centers for trade and social gatherings. Yamnaya, untainted by the torrid events which occurred before their arrival, blossomed against the pitiful natives. Ancient DNA reveals these migrants were well-nourished, tall, and muscular. Some archaeologists also argue that the warrior tribe consisted of skilled horsemen. ‘It looks like they lived mostly on meat and milk products,’ says Professor Kristiansen. ‘They were healthier and probably physically quite strong.’ A controversial study from 2017 also claimed the burial rituals of the men and women differed in societies after the Yamnaya had invaded and succeeded.” ref

The men maintained their burial traditions while women were buried in the traditional ways of their local civilization.

“This, some say, indicates the Yamnaya invade, massacred all the males, and impregnated the women in order to rapidly further their bloodlines. Such aggressive and murderous behavior would have inevitably caused some consternation among Neolithic societies struggling to hold back the powerful Yamnaya. Evidence of a fightback against the brutal folk comes from an archaeological site in Germany called Eulau. Here, graves were found where large amounts of women and children were buried together. Isotope analysis of the adults’ teeth revealed they were in fact not local to the area and grew up elsewhere before moving to the region – likely women captured by the Yamnaya. Of the 13 bodies at the site, five suffered injuries which were likely the cause f their death, and experts claim this is evidence they were ambushed and massacred by rival tribes in a revenge attack.” ref

“The men of the tribe were likely away from the site at the time tending to the cattle when the raid was launched, leaving the women and children defenseless. Eulau is an example of a fightback from scorned locals, but experts caution that it was likely an anomaly. Genetic analysis found that the movement of the Yamnaya across the English Channel into England happened around 4,400 years ago and coincides with when the Britons of the time, who built Stonehenge (pictured), completely disappeared from the genetic record. Evidence is mounting to support the theory that the Yamnaya were accomplished warriors that defeated all comers in their journey across Europe, but archaeologists warn it may not be that simple and to believe a model based on a single assumption could be a tempting, but misleading, trap.” ref

Propagation of their DNA throughout the continent may have been aided by interceding with different cultures.

“Around 4,700 years ago, a population in modern-day Spain and Portugal called the Bell Beaker people were thriving. This group of people was also made of celebrated warriors who shared similar customs – such as burying their dead in single graves. Carbon dating of a range of products, including arrowheads, bell-shaped pots, and copper daggers proved their origin to be from the Iberian peninsula. But their culture – but not the people – then migrated west towards central Europe, where it collided with the Corded Ware people of Yamnaya descent heading in the opposite direction. There is currently no evidence of a conflict, instead, the Corded Ware people appear to have embraced the notion 4,600 years ago. ‘They simply take on part of the Bell Beaker package and become Beaker people,’ says Professor Kristiansen. This ability to adapt allowed Yamnaya DNA to survive from the original society, into the Corded Ware people, and then manifest again as the Beaker people.” ref

“A genetic fork was forged by this mixing of the groups and created true Beaker people, who remained in Iberia, and the new branch in the modern-day Netherlands with Yamnaya blood. This mixing was integral to the next step in the journey of these people as they used the sea-faring knowledge obtained from the Beaker people to cross the English Channel. Once on English turf, the people went about their usual business and eradicated almost all the local inhabitants of the island. Genetic analysis found that this movement of the Yamnaya descendants happened around 4,400 years ago and coincides with when the Britons of the time, who built Stonehenge, completely disappeared. There is no remnants of their DNA in the genome of modern people, but more significantly, there is no proof of the original Brits even a handful or generations later.” ref


Stonehenge was built thousands of years before machinery was invented.

“The heavy rocks weigh upwards of several tonnes each. Some of the stones are believed to have originated from a quarry in Wales, some 140 miles (225km) away from the Wiltshire monument. To do this would have required a high degree of ingenuity, and experts believe the ancient engineers used a pulley system over a shifting conveyor-belt of logs. Historians now think that the ring of stones was built in several different stages, with the first completed around 5,000 years ago by Neolithic Britons who used primitive tools, possibly made from deer antlers.” ref

Modern scientists now widely believe that Stonehenge was created by several different tribes over time.

“After the Neolithic Britons – likely natives of the British Isles – started the construction, it was continued centuries later by their descendants. Over time, the descendants developed a more communal way of life and better tools which helped in the erection of the stones. Bones, tools and other artifacts found on the site seem to support this hypothesis. Evidence of a fightback against the brutal folk comes from an archaeological site in Germany called Eulau. Here, graves were found where large amounts of women and children were buried together after being massacred in retaliation. Pictured are the bodies of mothers embracing their children in a grave at the site in modern-day Germany.” ref

“The most violent group of people who ever lived: Horse-riding Yamnaya tribe who used their huge height and muscular build to brutally murder and invade their way across Europe than 4,000 years ago” ref

The Yamnaya took over and erased all genetic evidence of the land’s previous stewards.

“This theory is backed up by David Reich at Harvard Medical School who is due to release a piece of research stating the Yumnaya orchestrated a systematic genocide of Neolithic men. Original Bell Beaker people collided with the Yamnaya people 4,50 years ago and this provides some of the strongest evidence yet of their brutality. Forty percent of all males had a Y chromosome-linked to Yumnaya, indicating after the cultures met, only Yumnaya men were procreating. The collision of these two populations was not a friendly one, not an equal one, but one where the males from outside were displacing local males and did so almost completely,’ Reich told New Scientist Live in September. ‘It’s the only way to explain that no male Neolithic lines survived.” ref

Naram-Sin of Akkad

“Naram-Sin also transcribed Narām-Sîn or Naram-Suen (Akkadian: ????????????????????????????: DNa-ra-am DSîn, meaning “Beloved of the Moon God Sîn“, the “????” being a silent honorific for “Divine”), was a ruler of the Akkadian Empire, who reigned c. 2254–2218 BCE, and was the third successor and grandson of King Sargon of Akkad. Under Naram-Sin the empire reached its maximum strength. He was the first Mesopotamian king known to have claimed divinity for himself, taking the title “God of Akkad”, and the first to claim the title “King of the Four Quarters, King of the Universe“. Naram-Sin defeated Manium of Magan, and various northern hill tribes in the Zagros, Taurus, and Amanus Mountains, expanding his empire up to the Mediterranean Sea and Armenia. His “Victory Stele” depicts his triumph over Satuni, chief of Lullubi in the Zagros Mountains. The king list gives the length of his reign as 56 years, and at least 20 of his year-names are known, referring to military actions against various places such as Uruk and Subartu. One unknown year was recorded as “the Year when Naram-Sin was victorious against Simurrum in Kirasheniwe and took prisoner Baba the governor of Simurrum, and Dubul the ensi of Arame”. Other year names refer to his construction work on temples in Akkad, Nippur, and Zabala. He also built administrative centers at Nagar and Nineveh. At one point in his reign much of the empire, led by Iphur-Kis from the city of Kish rose in rebellion and was put down strongly.” ref

Submission of Sumerian kings

“The submission of some Sumerian rulers to Naram-Sin, and in general to the Akkadian Empire, is recorded in the seal inscriptions of Sumerian rulers such as Lugal-ushumgal, governor (ensi) of Lagash (“Shirpula”), circa 2230-2210 BCE. Several inscriptions of Lugal-ushumgal are known, particularly seal impressions, which refer to him as governor of Lagash and at the time a vassal (????, arad, “servant” or “slave”) of Naram-Sin, as well as his successor Shar-kali-sharri. One of these seals proclaims: “Naram-Sin, the mighty God of Agade, king of the four corners of the world, Lugalushumgal, the scribe, ensi of Lagash, is thy servant.” — Seal of Lugal-ushumgal as vassal of Naram-sin. It can be considered that Lugalushumgal was a collaborator of the Akkadian Empire, as was Meskigal, ruler of Adab. Later however, Lugal-ushumgal was succeeded by Puzer-Mama who, as Akkadian power waned, achieved independence from Shar-Kali-Sharri, assuming the title of “King of Lagash” and starting the illustrious Second Dynasty of Lagash.” ref

Control of Elam

“Elam had been under the domination of Akkad, at least temporarily, since the time of Sargon. The Elamite king Khita is probably recorded as having signed a peace treaty with Naram-Sin, stating: “The enemy of Naram-Sin is my enemy, the friend of Naram-Sin is my friend”. It has been suggested that the formal treaty allowed Naram-Sin to have peace on his eastern borders, so that he could deal more effectively with the threat from Gutium. Further study of the treaty suggests that Khita provided Elamite troops to Naram-Sin, that he married his daughter to the Akkadian king, and that he agreed to set up statues of Naram-Sin in the sanctuaries of Susa. As a matter of fact, it is well known that Naram-Sin had extreme influence over Susa during his reign, building temples and establishing inscriptions in his name, and having the Akkadian language replace Elamite in official documents. During the rule of Naram-Sin, “military governors of the country of Elam” (shakkanakkus) with typically Akkadian names are known, such as Ili-ishmani or Epirmupi. This suggests that these governors of Elam were officials of the Akkadian Empire.” ref

Conquest of Armanum and Ebla

“The conquest of Armanum and Ebla on the Mediterranean coast by Naram-Sin is mentioned in several of his inscriptions: “Whereas, for all time since the creation of mankind, no king whosoever had destroyed Armanum and Ebla, the god Nergal, by means of (his) weapons opened the way for Naram-Sin, the mighty, and gave him Armanum and Ebla. Further, he gave to him the Amanus, the Cedar Mountain, and the Upper Sea. By means of the weapons of the god Dagan, who magnifies his kingship, Naram-Sin, the mighty, conquered Armanum and Ebla.” — Inscription of Naram-Sin. E

Nasiriyah stele of Naram-Sin

“An alabaster stele representing captives being led by Akkadian soldiers is generally attributed to Narim-Sin on stylistic grounds. In particular, it is considered as more sophisticated graphically than the steles of Sargon of Akkad or those of Rimush. Two fragments are in the National Museum of Iraq, and one in the Boston Museum. The stele is quite fragmentary, but attempts at reconstitution have been made. Depending on sources, the fragments were excavated in Wasit, al-Hay district, Wasit Governorate, or in Nasiriyah, both locations in Iraq. It is thought that the stele represents the result of the campaigns of Naram-Sin to Cilicia or Anatolia. This is suggested by the characteristics of the booty carried by the soldiers in the stele, especially the metal vessel carried by the main soldier, the design of which is unknown in Mesopotamia, but on the contrary well known in contemporary Anatolia. Victory Stele of Naram-Sin, c. 2230 BCE. It shows him defeating the Lullibi, a tribe in the Zagros Mountains, and their king Satuni, trampling them and spearing them. Satuni, standing right, is imploring Naram-Sin to save him. Naram-Sin is also twice the size of his soldiers. In the 12th century BCE it was taken to Susa, where it was found in 1898.” ref

“One Mesopotamian myth, a historiographic poem entitled “The curse of Akkad: the Ekur avenged”, explains how the empire created by Sargon of Akkad fell and the city of Akkad was destroyed. The myth was written hundreds of years after Naram-Sin’s life and is the poet’s attempt to explain how the Gutians succeeded in conquering Sumer. After an opening passage describing the glory of Akkad before its destruction, the poem tells of how Naram-Sin angered the chief god Enlil by plundering the Ekur (Enlil’s temple in Nippur.) In his rage, Enlil summoned the Gutians down from the hills east of the Tigris, bringing plague, famine, and death throughout Mesopotamia. Food prices became vastly inflated, with the poem stating that 1 lamb would buy only half a sila (about 425 ml) of grain, half a sila of oil, or half a mina (about 250g) of wool. To prevent this destruction, eight of the gods (namely Inanna, Enki, Sin, Ninurta, Utu, Ishkur, Nusku, and Nidaba) decreed that the city of Akkad should be destroyed in order to spare the rest of Sumer and cursed it.” ref

“This is exactly what happens, and the story ends with the poet writing of Akkad’s fate, mirroring the words of the gods’ curse earlier on:

Its chariot roads grew nothing but the ‘wailing plant,’
Moreover, on its canalboat towpaths and landings,
No human being walks because of the wild goats, vermin, snakes, and mountain scorpions,
The plains where grew the heart-soothing plants, grew nothing but the ‘reed of tears,’
Akkad, instead of its sweet-flowing water, there flowed bitter water,
Who said “I would dwell in that” found not a good dwelling place,
Who said “I would lie down in Akkad” found not a good sleeping place.” ref

Gutian Incursions

“These Gutian raids were indeed devastating, but it is unknown how badly they affected Sumer. Naram-Sin may have passed on his empire to his son Shar-Kali-Sharri more or less intact upon his death in c. 2219 BCE, or he may have passed on little more than Akkad itself. The Gutians remained there for over 100 years before being replaced by the Ur III state as the dominant political power.” ref

Victory stele

Main article: Victory Stele of Naram-Sin

“Naram-Sin’s Victory Stele depicts him as a god-king (symbolized by his horned helmet) climbing a mountain above his soldiers, and his enemies, the defeated Lullubi led by their king Satuni. Although the stele was broken off at the top when it was stolen and carried off by the Elamite forces of Shutruk-Nakhunte in the 12th century BCE, it still strikingly reveals the pride, glory, and divinity of Naram-Sin. The stele seems to break from tradition by using successive diagonal tiers to communicate the story to viewers, however, the more traditional horizontal frames are visible on smaller broken pieces. It is six feet and seven inches tall, and made from pink limestone. The stele was found at Susa, and is now in the Louvre Museum. A similar bas-relief depicting Naram-Sin was found a few miles north-east of Diarbekr, at Pir Hüseyin. The inscription over the head of the king is in Akkadian and fragmentary, but reads: “Naram-Sin the powerful . . . . Sidur and Sutuni, princes of the Lulubi, gathered together and they made war against me.” — Akkadian inscription of Naram-Sin. The second inscription, to the right over the mountainous cone, is in Elamite and was written about 1000 years later by king Shutruk-Nahhunte, who stole the stele and brought it to Elam.” ref

“Among the known sons of Naram-Sin were his successor Shar-Kali-Sharri, Nabi-Ulmash, who was governor of Tutub, and a Ukin-Ulmash. Excavations at Tell Mozan (ancient Urkesh) brought to light a sealing of Tar’am-Agade, a previously unknown daughter of Naram-Sin, who was possibly married to an unidentified endan (ruler) of Urkesh. A foundation deposit of Naram-Sin was discovered and analyzed by king Nabonidus, circa 550 BCE, who is thus known as the first archaeologist. Not only did he lead the first excavations which were to find the foundation deposits of the temples of Šamaš the sun god, the warrior goddess Anunitu (both located in Sippar), and the sanctuary that Naram-Sin built to the moon god, located in Harran, but he also had them restored to their former glory. He was also the first to date an archaeological artifact in his attempt to date Naram-Sin’s temple during his search for it. Even though his estimate was inaccurate by about 1,500 years, it was still a very good one considering the lack of accurate dating technology at the time.” ref

Mystery of Ancient Chinese Civilization’s Disappearance Explained

“An archaeological site unearthed in 1986 in China revealed giant bronze statues from a lost Chinese civilization called Sanxingdui. One of the bronze masks uncovered at the site, which is roughly 3,000 years old. A new theory suggests the ancient culture moved after an earthquake rerouted the flow of the city’s river. An earthquake nearly 3,000 years ago maybe the culprit in the mysterious disappearance of one of China’s ancient civilizations, new research suggests. The massive temblor may have caused catastrophic landslides, damming up the Sanxingdui culture’s main water source and diverting it to a new location. That, in turn, may have spurred the ancient Chinese culture to move closer to the new river flow, study co-author Niannian Fan, a river sciences researcher at Tsinghua University in Chengdu, China, said Dec. 18 at the 47th annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. [Ancient Chinese Warriors Protect Secret Tomb]” ref

Sargon of Akkad

Sargon of Akkad (/ˈsɑːrɡɒn/; Akkadian: ???????????? Šar-ru-gi), also known as Sargon the Great, was the first ruler of the Akkadian Empire, known for his conquests of the Sumerian city-states in the 24th to 23rd centuries BCE. He is sometimes identified as the first person in recorded history to rule over an empire. He was the founder of the “Sargonic” or “Old Akkadian” dynasty, which ruled for about a century after his death until the Gutian conquest of Sumer.[5] The Sumerian king list makes him the cup-bearer to king Ur-Zababa of Kish. He is not to be confused with Sargon I, a later king of the Old Assyrian period. His empire is thought to have included most of Mesopotamia, parts of the Levant, besides incursions into Hurrite and Elamite territory, ruling from his (archaeologically as yet unidentified) capital, Akkad (also Agade). Sargon appears as a legendary figure in Neo-Assyrian literature of the 8th to 7th centuries BCE. Tablets with fragments of a Sargon Birth Legend were found in the Library of Ashurbanipal.” ref

Ancient civilization

“In 1929, a peasant in Sichuan province uncovered jade and stone artifacts while repairing a sewage ditch located about 24 miles (40 kilometers) from Chengdu. But their significance wasn’t understood until 1986, when archaeologists unearthed two pits of Bronze Age treasures, such as jades, about 100 elephant tusks, and stunning 8-feet-high (2.4 meters) bronze sculptures that suggest an impressive technical ability that was present nowhere else in the world at the time, said Peter Keller, a geologist and president of the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California, which is currently hosting an exhibit of some of these treasures. The treasures, which had been broken and buried as if they were sacrificed, came from a lost civilization, now known as the Sanxingdui, a walled city on the banks of the Minjiang River. “It’s a big mystery,” said Keller, who was not involved in the current study. Archaeologists now believe that the culture willfully dismantled itself sometime between 3,000 and 2,800 years ago, Fan said. “The current explanations for why it disappeared are war and flood, but both are not very convincing,” Fan told Live Science.” ref

Blue-Eyed Immigrants Transformed Ancient Israel 6,500 Years Ago

“Thousands of years ago in what is now northern Israel, waves of migrating people from the north and east — present-day Iran and Turkey — arrived in the region. And this influx of newcomers had a profound effect, transforming the emerging culture. What’s more, these immigrants not only brought new cultural practices; they also introduced new genes — such as the mutation that produces blue eyes — that were previously unknown in that geographic area, according to a new study. Archaeologists recently discovered this historic population shift by analyzing DNA from skeletons preserved in an Israeli cave. The site, in the north of the tiny country, contains dozens of burials and more than 600 bodies dating to approximately 6,500 years ago, the scientists reported. [The Holy Land: 7 Amazing Archaeological Finds] DNA analysis showed that skeletons preserved in the cave were genetically distinct from people who historically lived in that region. And some of the genetic differences matched those of people who lived in neighboring Anatolia and the Zagros Mountains, which are now part of Turkey and Iran, the study found.” ref

Mysterious 6,500-year-old Culture in Israel Was Brought by Migrants, Researchers Say

“Genetic analysis shows ancient Galilean farmers warmly embraced blue-eyed, fair-skinned immigrants from Iran and Turkey in the late Copper Age.” ref

The Chalcolithic metallurgical revolution and its effects in Israel and the neighboring lands

“On May 12, 2013, Thomas E. Levy, Distinguished Professor and Norma Kershaw Chair in the Archaeology of Ancient Israel and Neighboring Lands at the University of California, San Diego, presented the lecture “Journey to the Copper Age – The Chalcolithic Metallurgical Revolution and Its Effects in Israel and the Neighboring Lands” at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Levy explores one of the early centers of metal production in the Holy Land. This metallurgical revolution took place in the Chalcolithic (Copper) age between 4500 and 3600 B.C.E., a period which “coincides with a whole package of fundamental changes that established the Middle Eastern world’s subsistence base.” ref

“Discover material culture from a transformational period that set the stage for the urbanity of the Bronze Age. Dr. Levy guides audiences from donkey-based surveys to digital and experimental archaeology as he highlights the elegant artifacts created by the diverse regional Copper Age societies of the Southern Levant. The Sunday at the Met lecture was made possible by the Helen Diller Family. Click here to view the video and program information on the MetMedia website.ref

Copper Age state societies

“The Chalcolithic or Copper Age is the transitional period between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age. It is taken to begin around the mid-5th millennium BCE, and ends with the beginning of the Bronze Age proper, in the late 4th to 3rd millennium BC, depending on the region. The Chalcolithic is part of prehistory, but based on archaeological evidence, the emergence of the first state societies can be inferred, notably in the Fertile Crescent (Sumer, predynastic Egypt, Protominoan Crete), with late Neolithic societies of comparable complexity emerging in the Indus Valley (Mehrgarh) and in China.” ref

“The development of states—large-scale, populous, politically centralized, and socially stratified polities/societies governed by powerful rulers—marks one of the major milestones in the evolution of human societies. Archaeologists often distinguish between primary (or pristine) states and secondary states. Primary states evolved independently through largely internal developmental processes rather than through the influence of any other pre-existing state. The earliest known primary states appeared in Mesopotamia c. 3700 BCE, in Egypt c. 3300 BCE, in the Indus Valley c. 3300 BCE, and in China c. 1600 BCE.” ref

City and period:

Anau 4000 to 1000 BCE (Central Asia centered in southern Turkmenistan)

Anshan 4000 to 1000 BCE (Iran)

Bad-tibira 5000 BC to 2300 BCE (Iraq)

Çatalhöyük 6700 BC to 5700 BCE (Turkey)

Ebla 3500 BC to 1600 BCE (Syria)

Eridu 5400 BC to 2050 BCE (Iraq)

Girsu 5000 to 2100 BCE (Iraq)

Heliopolis (Lower Egypt) 3500 to 100 BCE (Egypt)

Isin 3500 to 2100 BCE (Iraq)

Jericho Neolithic (first settlement) to 1400 BCE (Palestine)

Kish 4000 to 2300 BCE (Iraq)

Knossos 7000 to 1900 BCE (Crete, Greece)

Lagash 4000 to 2250 BCE (Iraq)

Laish 4500 to 1350 BCE (Israel)

Mari 5000 to 1759 BCE (Syria)

Mehrgarh 5500 to 2500 BCE (Pakistan)

Nekhen (Upper Egypt) 3500 to Ptolemaic Dynasty (Egypt)

Nippur 5000 to 2450 BCE (Iraq)

Rakhigarhi 6500 to 1900 BCE (India)

Susa 4200 to 2330 BCE (Iran)

Ugarit 6000 to 1190 BCE (Syria)

Ur 4000 to 2000 BCE (Iraq)

Uruk 4000 to 3100 BCE (Iraq) ref

Scientists have traced a genetic descent from the 5,500 year-old remains to a second set of 2,500 year-old female remains found nearby and, amazingly, to a woman still living close to both prehistoric sites on British Columbia’s northern coast.

“The study used DNA samples from 60 modern members of the indigenous Tsimshian, Haida, and Nisga’a tribes from the Metlakatla First Nation.  The samples were compared with mitochondrial DNA extracted from the teeth of four ancient people: two skeletons aged 6,000 years and 5,500 years unearthed in an ancient shell midden on Lucy Island, and two skeletons aged 5,000 years and 2,500 years found on Dodge Island. Three living individuals had DNA matches with the older Dodge Island skeleton, and three of the skeletons matched at least one living person.  The oldest Lucy Island skeleton didn’t match any living relatives, but did match a 10,300-year-old skeleton previously unearthed on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska. The team was surprised by the genetic link between the 5,500-year-old Lucy Island female and the 2,500-year-old Dodge Island female, but was elated to find they both had the exact same mitogenome of a living Tsimshian woman – a kinship covering at least 200 generations. Previous DNA research suggests that 95% of all Native Americans can trace their mitochondrial ancestry to 6 women who lived between 18,000 and 21,000 years ago.  The mitochondrial signatures that these ‘founding mothers’ left behind aren’t found in Asia, which suggests that they arose in Beringia, the now-submerged land bridge which connected Asia to North America during the last Ice Age.” ref

“However, the genetic picture which followed their descendants’ migration into North America around 15,000 years ago has proven difficult to understand – mainly due to the effects of European colonization from the 16th century onwards, which, as well as adding European DNA into the mix, effectively snuffed out many indigenous genetic lineages. Which makes this living mitochondrial link particularly important. Study leader Ripan Malhi, said:  “It’s a rare lineage.  In my mind, I expect that lots of these rare lineages would have gone extinct after European contact and colonization because of the high mortality that was associated with contact.” Study co-author and Metlakatla treaty official, Joycelynn Mitchell, added:  “It’s very exciting to be able to have scientific proof that corroborates what our ancestors have been telling us for generations.  It is amazing how fast technology is moving to be able to prove this kind of link with our past.” ref

“Burials that show differential treatment in the number of grave goods for members of the community, as well as the appearance in some regions of artificial skull deformation, suggest the existence of the ranked societies with which these practices were later associated. The high incidence of broken bones and skulls among male burials, coincidentally with the appearance of decorated clubs of stone or whalebone, suggests the development of a pattern of warfare.” ref

“Neoglacial climate change during the Late Holocene resulted in a cooler, wetter climate in Southeast Alaska, with increased storminess and heavier winter snowfalls. Coastlines were fully stabilized by about 2,500 years ago. During this period, Developmental Northwest Coast Stage societies in the region experienced a cultural and economic fluorescence which ultimately led to the complex Eyak, Tlingit, and Haida societies encountered by European and Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries. These developments resulted in greater dependence on intertidal resources, larger populations, permanent winter villages, tribal and clan societies holding territories which they defended, and elaborate plank houses, art, and ritual.” ref

“One prominent synthesis has divided the Developmental Stage into Early (5,200 – 2,600 years ago), Middle (2,600 – 1000 years ago), and Late (1000 – circa 250 years ago) phases, but other researchers have offered different schemes emphasizing continuity and gradual change. Representative sites for the Early phase include: Hidden Falls (Baranof Island), Coffman Cove (Prince of Wales Island), Rosie’s Rock shelter (Heceta island), Ground Hog Bay (Chilkat Peninsula), and Traders Island. The Middle phase is represented by Sarkar Entrance (Prince of Wales Island), Young Bay (Admiralty Island), Green Creek, and Component II at Hidden Falls, among others. Late phase sites include Starrigavan (Baranof Island), Russian Cove, Bear Shell Midden (Chichagof Island), Old Town (Knight Island), and Component I at Ground Hog Bay.” ref

After about 5,200 years ago, evidence for larger and more permanent settlements appears, including large shell middens associated with masses of fire-cracked rock, wooden post molds indicating plank house construction, beach-gravel pavements, and rock bounded hearths. Further evidence is provided by the appearance of wooden fish weirs targeting salmon for mass harvest at about 3,200 years ago, and a three-fold increase in the number of dated archaeological sites between 6,500 and 1,000 years ago. A variety of seasonal subsistence camps remained in use and fortifications implying warfare appeared.” ref

“Petroglyphs bearing clan crests and delineating territorial boundaries are part of the late Developmental record. Human burials from the late developmental phase are common finds. Bones and shell excavated from the midden sites gives us a detailed picture of Developmental Stage diets. Mammals targeted included Sitka deer, bears, harbor seals, sea otters. Whale, either scavenged or hunted, appears in late Developmental sites. Bird remains are uncommon, but include rare bald eagle bones. Domestic dog bones are also found, but it is not certain if they were used as food. Fish remains show use of four species of anadromous salmon and more than 14 species of marine fishes, including halibut, cod, and rockfish. At least 21 species of shellfish were eaten, with blue mussel, butter clams, and Pacific littleneck clams making up the majority at some sites.” ref

“Technologically the shift from the Transitional to the Developmental Stage is marked by much greater reliance on ground stone implements, including large and elaborate tools like grooves adzes and mauls. Other ground tool forms are stone points, wedges, gravers, abraders, and bowls. Nephrite, a tough form of jade, was used for some heavy tools like mauls. Bone was used for barbed harpoon points and drinking tubes, shell for knives, and beaver incisors for woodworking. Decorative items like incised stones and a wide variety of ornamental items are also found. These include pendants and beads made of shell, mammal teeth, amber, and jet. Ground labrets were used to fill lower lip piercings. Simple flaked stone technology and even microblades are retained at some of the earliest Developmental sites, but subsequently, disappeared from the archaeological record. Rare flexible organic artifacts like bark mats and baskets have been found in middle and late Developmental phase sites. Copper makes its first appearance in late Developmental sites, used for items like knife blades, arrowheads, bracelets and beads, small adze blades, scrapers, knives, drills, and awls. Flaked stone technology using obsidian makes a small revival during the late Developmental phase. Awls made from drift iron of European origin appear at the very end of the Developmental Tradition.” ref

Longshan culture

“The Longshan (or Lung-shan) culture, also sometimes referred to as the Black Pottery Culture, was a late Neolithic culture in the middle and lower Yellow River valley areas of northern China from about 3000 to 1900 BCE. The first archaeological find of this culture took place at the Chengziya Archaeological Site in 1928, with the first excavations in 1930 and 1931. The culture is named after the nearby modern town of Longshan (lit. “Dragon Mountain”) in Zhangqiu, Shandong. The culture was noted for its highly polished black pottery (or egg-shell pottery). The population expanded dramatically during the 3rd millennium BCE, with many settlements having rammed earth walls. It decreased in most areas around 2000 BCE until the central area evolved into the Bronze Age Erlitou culture. A distinctive feature of the Longshan culture was the high level of skill in pottery making, including the use of pottery wheels, producing thin-walled and polished black pottery. This pottery was widespread in North China, and also found in the Yangtze River valley and as far as the southeastern coast.” ref

“Until the 1950s, such black pottery was considered the principal diagnostic, and all of these sites were assigned to the Longshan culture. In the first edition of his influential survey The Archaeology of Ancient China, published in 1963, Kwang-chih Chang described the whole area as a “Longshanoid horizon”, suggesting a fairly uniform culture attributed to expansion from a core area in the Central Plain. More recent discoveries have uncovered much more regional diversity than previously thought, so that many local cultures included within Chang’s Longshanoid horizon are now viewed as distinct cultures, and the term “Longshan culture” is restricted to the middle and lower Yellow River valley. For example, the contemporaneous culture of the lower Yangtze area is now described as the Liangzhu culture. At the same time, researchers recognized the diversity within the Yellow River valley by distinguishing regional variants in Henan, Shanxi, and Shaanxi from the Shandong or “classic” Longshan. In the fourth edition of his book (1986), Chang moved from a model centered on the Central Plain to a model of distinctive regional cultures whose development was stimulated by the interaction between regions, a situation he called the “Chinese interaction sphere”. Also in the 1980s, Yan Wenming proposed the term “Longshan era” to encompass cultures of the Late Neolithic (3rd millennium BCE) across the area, though he assigned the Central Plain a leading role.” ref


“The most important crop was foxtail millet, but traces of broomcorn millet, rice, and wheat have also been found. Rice grains have been found in Shandong and southern Henan, and a small rice field has been found on the Liaodong peninsula. Specialized tools for digging, harvesting, and grinding grain have been recovered. The most common source of meat was the pig. Sheep and goats were apparently domesticated in the Loess Plateau area in the 4th millennium BC, found in western Henan by 2800 BCE, and then spread across the middle and lower Yellow River area. Dogs were also eaten, particularly in Shandong, though cattle were less important. Small-scale production of silk by raising and domesticating the silkworm in early sericulture was also known.” ref


“Remains have been found in Shaanxi and southern Henan of scapulae of cattle, pigs, sheep, and deer that were heated as a form of divination. Evidence of human sacrifice becomes more common in Shaanxi and the Central Plain in the late Longshan period.” ref

Early period

“Excavations in the 1950s in Shanxian, western Henan, identified a Miaodigou II phase (3000 to 2600 BCE) transitional between the preceding Yangshao culture and the later Henan Longshan. A minority of archaeologists have suggested that this phase, which is contemporaneous with the late Dawenkou culture in Shandong, should instead be assigned to the Yangshao culture, but most describe it as the early phase of the Henan Longshan. Some scholars argue that the late Dawenkou culture should be considered the early phase of the Shandong Longshan culture.” ref

“Miaodigou II sites are found in central and western Henan, southern Shanxi, and the Wei River valley in Shaanxi. The tools and pottery found at these sites were significantly improved from those of the preceding Yangshao culture. Agriculture was intensified, and the consumption of domesticated animals (pigs, dogs, sheep, and cattle) greatly increased. Similarities in ceramic styles of central Henan Miaodigou II with the late Dawenkou culture to the east and the late Qujialing culture to the south suggest trade contacts between the regions. There were also expansions from middle and late Dawenkou sites (3500-2600 BCE) toward central Henan and northern Anhui which coincides the era of maximum marine transgression. Relative to other Longshan-era cultures, the gap between rich and poor in the Shandong Longshan was far less pronounced and there seemed to be less violence compared to other Longshan sites. The Shandong Longshan developed out of the Dawenkou culture and was succeeded by the Bronze Age Yueshi culture.” ref

Late period

“The late period (2600 to 2000 BCE) of the Longshan culture in the middle Yellow River area is contemporaneous with the classic Shandong Longshan culture. Several regional variants of the late middle Yellow River Longshan have been identified, including Wangwan III in western Henan, Hougang II in northern Henan and southern Hebei, Taosi in the Fen River basin in southern Shanxi, and several clusters on the middle reaches of the Jing River and Wei River collectively known as Kexingzhuang II or the Shaanxi Longshan.” ref

“As the Neolithic population in China reached its peak, hierarchies of settlements developed. In physically circumscribed locations, such as the basin of the Fen River in southern Shanxi, the Yellow River in western Henan (confined by the Zhongtiao Mountains and Xiao Mountains), and the coastal Rizhao plain of southeast Shandong, a few very large (over 200 ha) centers developed. In more open areas, such as the rest of Shandong, the Central Plain (in Henan), and the Wei River basin in Shaanxi, local centers were more numerous, smaller (generally 20 to 60 ha), and fairly evenly spaced. Walls of rammed earth have been found in 20 towns in Shandong, 9 in the Central Plain, and one (Taosi) in southern Shanxi, suggesting a conflict between polities in these areas.” ref

Shandong Longshan

“The center of Shandong is a mountainous area, including Mount Tai (1,545 m) and other several other peaks over 1000 m. Longshan settlements are found on the plains surrounding this massif. To the north are four evenly spaced walled centers, Chengziya, Dinggong, Tianwang, and Bianxianwang (from west to east), with the largest, Chengziya, enclosing only 20 ha. A pottery sherd inscribed with 11 symbols was found at Dinggong, but scholars disagree on whether it should be dated to the Neolithic period. Relative to other Longshan-era cultures, the gap between rich and poor in the Shandong Longshan was far less pronounced and there seemed to be less violence compared to other Longshan sites. The Shandong Longshan developed out of the Dawenkou culture and was succeeded by the Bronze Age Yueshi culture.” ref

“The largest sites yet found in Shandong are Liangchengzhen (273 ha) and Yaowangcheng (368 ha). Both sites are near the southeast coast in the Rizhao area, with Yaowangcheng about 35 km to the south of Liangchengzhen. Each site is surrounded by a hierarchy of economically integrated settlements, but there are relatively few settlements in the area between the two, suggesting that they were political centers of rival polities. Production of pottery, stone tools, and textiles was common. There is also evidence suggesting the production of fermented beverages and prestige items made from jade and metal. Since both jade prestige items and utilitarian goods such as stone tools and pottery have been found at the sites, this suggests that they were also regional centers for production and exchange of goods. At Liangchengzhen, rice, foxtail millet, broomcorn millet, and wheat were grown. Foxtail millet was the most important crop in terms of the amount grown, however it was primarily used for animal fodder. Rice was the preferred food for human consumption.” ref

Hougang II

“The Hougang II variant of Longshan culture is located in northern Henan and Southern Hubei. The sites of this Longshan subtradition are densely distributed along the rivers in this region, many of the sites being less than 1 km apart. Walled sites include Hougang (10 ha) and Mengzhuang (16 ha). The Hougang II variant is known for having the first wells in the Yellow River area and the method they employed continued to be used by early bronze-age states in the region.” ref

Wangwan III

“The Wangwan III variant of the Longshan culture is located in western and central Henan province. The number of sites in this region triples from the Yangshao period, developing into multi-centered competitive systems. There is evidence of metallurgy at the Wangchenggang site, though it is possibly attributed to later layers. The Wangwan III variant is said to have given rise to the Erlitou culture, specifically a 70 ha walled center at Xinzhai is said to lead “typologically directly to early Eriltou”.” ref


“At 300 ha in area, the walled site at Taosi in the Linfen Basin in southern Shanxi, is the largest Longshan settlement in the middle Yellow River area. Mortuary practices indicate a complex society with at least three social ranks. In the late Taosi period, the rammed-earth wall was destroyed, and there are indications of violence and political upheaval. At around the same time, the new large center of Fangcheng (230 ha) was built 20 km to the southeast of Taosi, on the other side of the Chong Mountains.” ref

Sanliqiao II

“Sanliqiao II sites are located on both sides of the Yellow River in western Henan, southwestern Shanxi, and eastern Shaanxi. There are nearly a hundred settlements belonging to this regional variant which show three-level settlement hierarchy. The largest site (Xiaojiaokou, 10 km southeast of modern Sanmenxia) is 240 ha in area, whereas local centers range from 30 ha to 70 ha. Dwelling types of Sanliqiao II culture include both aboveground and semi-subterranean type houses as well as homes horizontally dug into loess cliffs with walls frequently coated with plaster. There is a noted similarity between the ceramics of this variant and that of the Kexingzhuang II variant.” ref

Kexingzhuang II

“Kexingzhuang II sites are scattered across the Wei River valley in southern Shaanxi. The largest site in this area is 60 ha, which is less than half the size of the largest Yangshao-era site in this region. A population decline is also noted during this period, which scholars attribute to migration caused by environmental changes. Out of 718 identified sites, 25 would be considered “medium-sized” centers surrounded by small village settlements in a three-level settlement hierarchy.” ref


“Towards the end of the 3rd millennium BCE, the population decreased sharply in most of the region and many of the larger centers were abandoned, possibly due to environmental change linked to the end of the Holocene Climatic Optimum. This was matched by the disappearance of high-quality black pottery found in ritual burials. In contrast, there was a rapid growth of population and social complexity in the basin of the Yi and Luo rivers of central Henan, culminating in the Erlitou culture. The material culture in this area shows a continuous development, through a Xinzhai phase centered on the Song Mountains immediately to the south. In the Taosi area, however, there is no such continuity between Longshan and Erlitou material culture, suggesting a collapse in that area and later expansion from the Erlitou core area.” ref

How wheat became a staple in China?

“Wheat reached China around 8,000 years ago in 6000 BCE, according to Huang Hsing-tsung in Fermentations and Food Science, part of an epic book series on Chinese civilization and science. This was several millennia after people around modern-day Turkey domesticated wheat. By 2000 BCE, the Chinese began to cultivate wheat regularly, but for centuries, it remained a second-rate grain. The Chinese boiled wheat like they did rice and millet, Huang explains, but it was unsatisfying and hard to eat. The turning point came with the emergence of a new technology: rotary grindstones that could produce high-quality flour. Huang writes that the proliferation of these food processing tools around 300 BCE paralleled the emergence of wheat as a major component in the Chinese diet. With flour readily available, Chinese chefs began to grasp the possibilities of using wheat’s gluten-forming proteins to create delicious, elastic dough that formed the basis of new wondrous foods.” ref

Archeologists have found some people in east China 5,000 years ago to be unusually tall and strong.

“Measurements of bones from graves in Shandong Province show the height of at least one man to have reached 1.9 meters with quite a few at 1.8 meters or taller. “This is just based on the bone structure. If he was a living person, his height would certainly exceed 1.9 meters,” said Fang Hui, head of Shandong University’s school of history and culture. From 2016, archeologists have been excavating the ruins of 104 houses, 205 graves, and 20 sacrificial pits at Jiaojia village in Zhangqiu District, Jinan City, capital of Shandong. The relics are from the Longshan Culture, a late Neolithic civilization in the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River, named after Mount Longshan in Zhangqiu. “Already agricultural at that time, people had diverse and rich food resources and thus their physique changed, “said Fang. Millet was the major crop and people raised pigs, according to Fang. Pig bones and teeth were found in some graves.” ref

“According to the findings, taller men were found in larger tombs, possibly because such people had a high status and were able to acquire better food. Shandong locals believe height to be one of their defining characteristics. Confucius (551-479 B.C.), a native of the region, was said to be about 1.9 meters tall. Official statistics back up the claim. In 2015, the average height of men aged 18 in Shandong was 1.753 meters, compared with a national average of 1.72 meters. The ruins of rows of houses in the area indicate that people lived quite comfortable lives, with separate bedrooms and kitchens, according to the excavations.” ref

“Colorful pottery and jade articles have also been found, said Wang Fen, head of the Jiaojia excavation team. The area was believed to the political, economic, and cultural center of northern Shandong 5,000 years ago. Ruins of ditches and clay embankments were also found. The Jiaojia ruins fill a cultural blank 4,500 to 5,000 years ago in the lower reaches of the Yellow River, said Wang Yongbo of the Shandong Provincial Institute of Archeology. Archaeologists found obvious damage to the head and leg bones of some of the bodies and to pottery and jade articles in six large tombs. The damage may have been done not long after the burials and may be due to power struggles among high-ranking people.” ref

“Li Boqian, an archaeologist with Peking University, said the excavations showed Jiaojia in a transition phase, but proved the existence of ancient states 5,000 years ago in the basin of lower Yellow River. The range of the Jiaojia site has been enlarged from an initial 240,000 square meters to 1 sq km. Currently, only 2,000 square meters has been excavated. “Further study and excavation of the site is of great value to our understanding of the origin of culture in east China,” said Zhou Xiaobo, deputy head of Shandong provincial bureau of cultural heritage.” ref

‘Jade Age’ Existed in China 5,000 Years Ago:  Archaeologists

“Archaeologists claim that they have found material evidence that China went through a “Jade Age” more than 5,000 years ago. Guo Dashun, a leading member of the Archaeology Society of China, said their conclusion was based on the research results of many jade items unearthed at Niuheliang, a site of the Hongshan Culture dating back 5,500 to 6,000 years ago. Guo said their conclusions would be written into a report summarizing the archaeological discoveries at Niuheliang over the past 20 years.” ref

“Located between the counties of Jianping and Lingyuan in northeast China’s Liaoning province, the Niuheliang ruins cover 50square kilometers and have yielded prehistoric pottery and jade ware. Discoveries of the head of a “goddess of Hongshan,” and an ancient kingdom ruins which consisted of altars, temples, and tombs startled the world in 1984. Chinese archaeologists have excavated 16 sites at the Niulheliang ruins of Hongshan Culture in the past two decades. During the excavation at the No. 16 site, in the southwest of the ruins, late last year, archaeologists unearthed six tombs of the Hongshan Culture period and more than 470 relics in an area of 1,575 square meters. “The unearthed relics included 22 jade items such as carved figurines, phoenixes, dragons, and other animals as well as other forms,” said Guo. He said that the items, pea green, pine green, and milky white in color, were polished with stone tools with a level of skill comparable to that of today.” ref

“The items ware were not only of high artistic value, but also constituted an unusual era of the pre-history civilization of China, Guo acknowledged. “They are material evidence that proves the belief of a ‘Jade Age’ in China more than 5,000 years ago.” The idea of the “Jade Age” was put forward as early as 1982 by Sun Shoudao, a prestigious archeologist and a research fellow with the Liaoning Provincial Archaeological Research Institute, who headed the archaeological team excavating the Niuheliang ruins. Based on research results of archaeological discoveries, he said a jade era existed between the Stone Age and the Bronze Age in China.” ref

“Meanwhile, Wen Guang, a noted research fellow with the China Geological Research Institute, has studied jade ware unearthed from Neolithic ruins across China, using microstructure investigation and optical determination methods. Based on the research outcome and relevant historical documents, Wen also held that there was a jade era in China between the Stone Age and the Bronze Age. Guo suggested a probe into the history of jade ware development in China, saying that it symbolized Chinese civilization. The ancient Chinese used jade plates to imply personal moral character or to repose one’s trust in something, noted Guo, and jade was made into different forms to represent the dignity, identity, and social status of different people.” ref

“Jade was also used in sacrificial and ritual articles as well as funeral objects. This concepts of using jade epitomized the development of and changes in the thinking and beliefs of the Chinese nation, Guo said. To date, jade articles are still popular in China in the form of earrings, pendants, and bracelets. And an increasing number of people in the country are taking to collecting and investing in jade articles.” ref

Unraveling ancestry, kinship, and violence in a Late Neolithic mass grave 5,000 years ago

Abstract and Figures

“The third millennium BCE was a period of major cultural and demographic changes in Europe that signaled the beginning of the Bronze Age. People from the Pontic steppe expanded westward, leading to the formation of the Corded Ware complex and transforming the genetic landscape of Europe. At the time, the Globular Amphora culture (3300–2700 BCE) existed over large parts of Central and Eastern Europe, but little is known about their interaction with neighboring Corded Ware groups and steppe societies. Here we present a detailed study of a Late Neolithic mass grave from southern Poland belonging to the Globular Amphora culture and containing the remains of 15 men, women, and children, all killed by blows to the head. We sequenced their genomes to between 1.1- and 3.9-fold coverage and performed kinship analyses that demonstrate that the individuals belonged to a large extended family. The bodies had been carefully laid out according to kin relationships by someone who evidently knew the deceased. From a population genetic viewpoint, the people from Koszyce are clearly distinct from neighboring Corded Ware groups because of their lack of steppe-related ancestry. Although the reason for the massacre is unknown, it is possible that it was connected with the expansion of Corded Ware groups, which may have resulted in competition for resources and violent conflict. Together with the archaeological evidence, these analyses provide an unprecedented level of insight into the kinship structure and social behavior of a Late Neolithic community.” ref

4,300 years old figurines thought to depict gods and goddesses at the Kültepe, Turkey

“KAYSERI, TURKEY—Hurriyet Daily News reports that a team of researchers led by Fikri Kulakoğlu of Ankara University uncovered more than a dozen 4,300-year-old figurines thought to depict gods and goddesses at the Kültepe mound in central Anatolia. Previous excavation at the site uncovered 35 similar figurines in one room of the same building. “The building we excavated is probably an official, religious, a very large and unique place in Anatolia,” Kulakoğlu said. Some of the figures are shown sitting on thrones, he added. To read about the oldest-known polychrome floor mosaic unearthed in central Turkey, go to “Polychrome Patchwork.” ref

New god, goddess figurines found in Kültepe

“Some 15 new god and goddess figurines have been found during ongoing archaeological excavations at Kültepe Kaniş/Karum Mound in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri. Excavations started 72 years ago in the area called “Kültepe” due to its ashy soil, which is about 25 kilometers away from Kayseri city center, and has continued ever since. During the excavations, god and goddess figurines dating back 4,300 years, believed by Anatolian people, were found this year. The figurines will be on display in the temporary exhibition at the Kayseri Museum. Ankara University Faculty of Language and History-Geography member and the head of Kültepe excavations, Professor Fikri Kulakoğlu, told the state-run Anadolu Agency that one of the two tablets taken out of Kültepe in the late 1800s and sold to an antique shop in Istanbul had gone to the British Museum and the other to the Louvre Museum.” ref

“Stating that scientists, who were curious about the city mentioned in the tablets, came to Turkey but could not find any tablets, Kulakoğlu said: “There was a Czech scientist named Bedrich Hrozny. This scientist is the first person in the world to solve the Hittite language. This person came to Kültepe in Kayseri to find out where the city of Kaniş mentioned on the tablets is. He destroyed one-third of the palace that we call ‘Warşama Palace.’ He dug a hole like a crater according to the excavation techniques of that time.” “He was disappointed that he could not find a tablet. He drew the attention of his coachman, who asked, ‘What happened to my master?’ He answered that he could not find a tablet. The coachman said, ‘You dug the wrong place, the tablets are not there, but in Mehmet Ağa’s field.’ He went back and started excavations in the place we call Karum, but he could not find many tablets,” he added.” ref

“Meanwhile, there was an epidemic of malaria in the region. Hrozny, who was a former soldier, brought a quinine tablet against malaria with him. People came to him because of the epidemic, they wanted medicine. He gave them a quinine tablet in return for a cuneiform tablet. Thus, he collected tablets from the villagers. Thanks to the tablets that he collected, which proved that Kültepe was the city of ‘Kaniş’ mentioned in the first tablets. He took the tablets to his country and returned them to Turkey in 1936. The tablets in the Istanbul Archeology Museum are the ones he studied and returned later,” the professor said. Kulakoğlu stated that they have been looking for an answer to the question, “What was Anatolia like in the Ancient Bronze Age, the period before the Assyrian merchants came to Anatolia?” since 2009, and said that they have continued excavations in the area of Kaniş, which is called the “upper city.” ref

“Reminding that they found 35 god and goddess figurines collectively in the excavations carried out in the room of a building in 2017, Kulakoğlu said: “We found 15 more idols [statuettes] this year. Excavations continue in this area. The building we excavated is probably an official, religious, a very large, and unique place in Anatolia. The idols extracted from here are the works that depict the beliefs of the Anatolian people and the beings they worshiped 4,500 years ago.” “Some of them are sitting on the throne and some are made schematically. These are works that are not available anywhere but Kültepe. You find a work worshiped by a person 4,500 years ago and bring it to light; this is exciting.” ref

‘Elite family’ Kingsmead Quarry ‘beaker burial’ of a woman 

“The remains of a “woman of importance” who was buried with a pot during the Copper Age have been discovered in a Berkshire quarry. Some of Britain’s earliest gold ornaments and rare beads were also found in the grave at Kingsmead Quarry, Horton. Gareth Chaffey, site director at Wessex Archaeology, said the woman could be a princess or a queen. She lived around 2,500 BCE at about the time of Stonehenge. The woman was found with a large drinking vessel placed on her hip which was decorated with a comb-like stamp.

But the acid nature of the soil around the skeletal remains has damaged them, limiting any scientific DNA analysis. The 35-year-old woman was buried with a “beaker” Mr Chaffey added: “She was probably an important person in her society, perhaps holding some standing which gave her access to prestigious, rare, and exotic items. “She could have been a leader, a person with power and authority, or possibly part of an elite family. “To find someone with such items [4,000 years ago] is extremely important.” ref

“Graves of this type are very, very rare in south-eastern England and it’s very rare to find graves of women.” Most “beaker burials” contain male skeletons buried in a crouched position with the head resting to the north and facing east, according to religious custom. The woman, who was 35-years-old or over when she died, had her body position reversed, with her head to the south. The jewelry found in her grave was not from the area. The gold may have come from Ireland, with lignite beads from Eastern England, and amber buttons from the Baltic.” ref

“Dr Stuart Needham, who is studying the beads, said “only a small number of [these graves] contain gold ornaments”. “The tubular beads that were found at Kingsmead Quarry are certainly rare in Britain, and this gives the grave tremendous research importance,” he added. Recent finds at the quarry, near Windsor, include four Neolithic houses thought to make up one of the oldest settlements ever found in England. Other finds suggest people have used the area since the end of the last Ice Age, about 12,000 years ago. The quarry is owned and run by Cemex, which extracts sand and gravel from the site.” ref

Wales Artifacts

“The earliest gold artifacts held in the national collection by Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales. These precious and stylish items of jewelry, marked out the status and wealth of their wearers, while illustrating the exceptional skills of their makers within these early metal-working societies. They span a period of over 1,500 years during prehistory, from the Copper Age (2450-2150 BCE or 4,470-4,170 years ago) and throughout the Bronze Age (c. 2150-800 BCE or 4,170-2,820 years ago).” ref

4,000-year-old female ruler, Span

“Spanish archaeologists found this silver diadem on top of the skull of a Bronze Age woman buried within palace ruins. J. A. SOLDEVILLA/ARQUEOECOLOGIA SOCIAL MEDITERRÀNIA RESEARCH GROUP/AUTONOMOUS UNIVERSITY OF BARCELONA. ‘Blinged out’ female ruler may be evidence of powerful women during the Bronze Age. As the many broken, battered bodies recovered from ancient burials can attest, the European Bronze Age was a tough time to be alive. Most historians and archaeologists have assumed these combative societies were led by men. But a new analysis of a richly adorned female ruler buried in a Bronze Age palace suggests women could also occupy the throne. There’s no way to know the true extent of her power, researchers note, but the find could lead others to reconsider their assumptions about the status of women throughout prehistory.” ref

“The idea that Bronze Age women may have held status and power in their own right has been around for some time,” says archaeologist Samantha Scott Reiter at the National Museum of Denmark, who wasn’t involved in the study. “It is only recently—with articles such as this one—that the discipline seems to be giving female power more serious academic consideration.” In a new paper, archaeologists report on a tomb uncovered in 2014 by Spanish researchers at a site known as La Almoloya. Here, ruins of a once-elaborate palace-like structure dominate a rocky hilltop overlooking the plains. The site was once part of the El Argar society, which thrived and controlled territories along the southeastern Iberian Peninsula from about 2200 to 1550 BCE. Archaeologists found weaving tools and materials at the site, and concluded it was a major textile producer and probably a wealthy regional center of power, says archaeologist and study co-author Roberto Risch of the Autonomous University of Barcelona.” ref

“The tomb lay beneath the floor of a large room that lacked common items such as tools or drinking vessels, as well as ceremonial items that might have pointed to a religious function. Instead, the spartan room contained only stone benches along its walls, suggesting it may have been a place for deliberation and governance. A couple was buried in an earthen jar beneath the floor of a large room that may have been used for political decision-making. Buried beneath the floor was an earthen jar containing the skeletons of a man and woman. Radiocarbon dating put their deaths sometime around 1650 BCE., and they died at or around the same time. The man was about 35 to 40 years old when he died, the woman was about 25 to 30. Researchers can’t be sure how they perished, as their skeletons show no obviously fatal injuries. Genetic analysis reveals the two weren’t related, but they had a daughter who died in infancy and was buried nearby.” ref

“Archaeologists found the couple’s burial jar brimming with treasure. The man wore a copper bracelet and had golden earlobe plugs, but the woman was truly blinged out. She sported several silver bracelets and rings, a beaded necklace, and a spectacular silver diadem adorning her skull. This crownlike object is nearly identical to four others found on women buried at another El Argar site some 90 kilometers away, the researchers report today in the journal Antiquity. The couple’s valuable grave goods clearly indicate they were among La Almoloya’s elite, the authors note. And the woman’s ornaments suggest she was the more powerful of the duo, perhaps a regional ruler in El Argar society. Richly ornamented women have been found at other Bronze Age sites across Europe, such as Denmark’s Egtved Girl and Skrydstrup Woman. In the past, many archaeologists chalked those up to wives being buried with their powerful warrior husbands. Given these and the La Almoloya woman’s prominence, however, “Why not imagine that these women were economic and political leaders?” Risch asks.” ref

“It’s impossible to know how the buried individuals were viewed by their community, says Mark Haughton, an archaeologist at the University of Cambridge. But he’s pleased to see that researchers didn’t write off the woman’s jewels as a symbol of male power. “If we accept that grave goods are the possessions of the deceased, then we need to include women in our narratives of Bronze Age power,” he says. Archaeologist Joanna Brück at University College Dublin agrees, noting it’s time for archaeologists to rethink their assumptions about similar burials of elite women from the era. “If we accept that patriarchy is not inevitable, perhaps we can imagine a better future for ourselves.” ref

4,000-year-old tablets found in Turkey include women’s rights

“The Kültepe-Kaniş-Karum trade colony in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri continues to amaze archeologists, with an expert at the dig revealing that tablets citing women’s rights were discovered at the Bronze Age settlement. Excavations at the ancient tumulus site began in 1948. So far, it has been discovered the center was where the written history of Anatolia began and the largest monumental structure of the Middle East was unearthed in 2013. A centuries-old baby rattle and a tablet about the sale of a donkey were unearthed last year.
Last month, the 2015 excavation season began in Kültepe. The head of the excavation team, Prof. Fikri Kulakoğlu of Ankara University, told Doğan News Agency on July 16 the site was remarkable not only because the priceless tablets revealed commercial information about the Assyrians, but also about the local social life of the time with all kinds of personal details about individuals.” ref

Emotional letters, complaints

“From women’s rights to the adoption of children and marriages arranged at birth, the tablets include all kinds of civilizational and social data from Anatolia 4,000 years ago. There is also an emotional letter from a woman to her husband and a letter from another woman who complains about her mother-in-law. You can’t find such things in an empire’s official archive,” he said. Still, most of the 23,500 cuneiform tablets unearthed at Kültepe were about commerce. “Kültepe is where the Anatolian enlightenment began. The people in this area were literate much earlier than other places in Anatolia, including its west,” Kulakoğlu added. Some 90 percent of the Kültepe tablets can be seen in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara. Some of them are exhibited at the site and are expected to be transferred soon to a new archaeology museum under construction in Kayseri, deemed to be the most important museum of the historic Cappadocia region. “This is a huge wealth,” Kulakoğlu said, voicing his hope that the trade colony will soon be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.” ref

Vast site once hosted 70,000

“The settlement in the tumulus is composed of segments from the early Bronze Age, the middle Bronze Age, the Iron Age, and Ancient Greece and Rome. One of the most important discoveries was a tablet from 2000 BCE, which explains there were local kingdoms in Anatolia at that time and the Kaniş Kingdom was the most powerful one.
Only a small area of Kültepe, which is thought to have hosted over 70,000 people four millennia ago, has been excavated so far. Officials say it might take 5,000 years to excavate the entire ancient site.” ref


“Kültepe, also known as Kanesh or Nesha, is an archaeological site in Kayseri Province, Turkey. The nearest modern city to Kültepe is Kayseri, about 20 km southwest. It consists of a tell, the actual Kültepe, and a lower town, where an Assyrian settlement was found. Its ancient names are recorded in Assyrian and Hittite sources. In Old Assyrian inscriptions from the 20th and the 19th century BCE, the city was mentioned as Kaneš (Kanesh); in later Hittite inscriptions, the city was mentioned as Neša (Nesha, Nessa, Nesa), or occasionally as Aniša (Anisha). In 2014, the archaeological site was inscribed in the Tentative list of World Heritage Sites in Turkey. It is also the site of the discovery of the earliest traces of the Hittite language, the earliest attestation of a Indo-European language, dated to the 20th century BCE. Kaneš or Neša, inhabited continuously from the Chalcolithic to Roman times, flourished as an important Hattian, Hittite, and Hurrian city, containing a large kārum (merchant colony) of the Old Assyrian Empire from c. the 21st to 18th centuries BCE. This kārum appears to have served as “the administrative and distribution center of the entire Assyrian colony network in Anatolia”. A late (c. 1400 BCE) witness to an old tradition includes a king of Kaneš called Zipani among seventeen local city-kings who rose up against Naram-Sin of Akkad (ruled c. 2254-2218 BCE).” ref

“The king of Zalpuwa, Uhna, raided Kanes, after which the Zalpuwans carried off the city’s Šiuš idol. Pithana, the king of Kussara, conquered Neša “in the night, by force”, but “did not do evil to anyone in it.” Neša revolted against the rule of Pithana’s son, Anitta, but Anitta quashed the revolt and made Neša his capital. Anitta further invaded Zalpuwa, captured its king Huzziya, and recovered the Šiuš idol for Neša. In the 17th century BC, Anitta’s descendants moved their capital to Hattusa, which Anitta had cursed, thus founding the line of Hittite kings. The inhabitants thus referred to the Hittite language as Nešili, “the language of Neša”. Modern archaeological work began in 1948, when Kültepe was excavated by a team from the Turkish Historical Society and the General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums. The team was led by Tahsin Özgüç until his death, in 2005.” ref

  • :Level IV-III. Little excavation has been done for these levels, which represent the kârum’s first habitation. No writing is attested, and archaeologists assume that both levels’ inhabitants were illiterate.” ref
  • Level II, 1974-1836 BCE (Mesopotamian Middle Chronology according to Veenhof). Craftsmen of this time and place specialized in animal-shaped earthen drinking vessels, which were often used for religious rituals. Assyrian merchants then established a merchant colony (kârum) attached to the city, which was called “Kaneš”. Bullae of Naram-Sin of Eshnunna have been found toward the end of this level, which was burned to the ground.” ref
  • “Level Ib, 1798-1740 BCE. After an interval of abandonment, the city was rebuilt over the ruins of the old and again became a prosperous trade center. The trade was under the control of Ishme-Dagan I, who was put in control of Assur when his father, Shamshi-Adad I, conquered Ekallatum and Assur. However, the colony was again destroyed by fire.” ref
  • “Level Ia. The city was reinhabited, but the Assyrian colony was no longer inhabited. The culture was early Hittite. Its name in Hittite became “Kaneša”, which was more commonly contracted to “Neša”.” ref

“Some attribute Level II’s burning to the conquest of the city of Assur by the kings of Eshnunna, but Bryce blames it on the raid of Uhna. Some attribute Level Ib’s burning to the fall of Assur, other nearby kings, and eventually to Hammurabi of Babylon. To date, over 20,000 cuneiform tablets have been recovered from the site.” ref

Kârum Kaneš

“The quarter of the city that most interests historians is the kārum, a portion of the city that was, during the Chalcolithic, set aside by local officials for the early Assyrian merchants to use without paying taxes as long as the goods remained inside the kārum. The term kārum means “port” in Akkadian, the lingua franca of the time, but its meaning was later extended to refer to any trading colony whether or not it bordered water. Several other cities in Anatolia also had a kārum, but the largest was Kaneš, whose important kārum was inhabited by soldiers and merchants from Assyria for hundreds of years. They traded local tin and wool for luxury items, foodstuffs, spices, and woven fabrics from the Assyrian homeland and Elam.” ref

“The remains of the kārum form a large circular mound 500 m in diameter and about 20 m above the plain (a tell). The kārum settlement is the result of several superimposed stratigraphic periods. New buildings were constructed on top of the remains of the earlier periods so there is a deep stratigraphy from prehistoric times to the early Hittite period. The kārum was destroyed by fire at the end of both levels II and Ib. The inhabitants left most of their possessions behind, to be found by modern archaeologists.” ref

“The findings have included numerous baked-clay tablets, some of which were enclosed in clay envelopes stamped with cylinder seals. The documents record common activities, such as trade between the Assyrian colony and the city-state of Assur and between Assyrian merchants and local people. The trade was run by families rather than the state. The Kültepe texts are the oldest documents from Anatolia. Although they are written in Old Assyrian, the Hittite loanwords and names in the texts are the oldest records of any Indo-European language (see also Ishara). Most of the archaeological evidence is typical of Anatolia rather than of Assyria, but the use of both cuneiform and the dialect is the best indication of Assyrian presence.” ref

Dating of Waršama Sarayi

“At Level II, the destruction was so total that no wood survived for dendrochronological studies. In 2003, researchers from Cornell University dated wood in level Ib from the rest of the city, built centuries earlier. The dendrochronologists date the bulk of the wood from buildings of the Waršama Sarayi to 1832 BCE, with further refurbishments up to 1779 BCE. In 2016 new research using carbon-dating and dendrology on timber used in this site and the palace in Acemhöyük show the likely earliest use of the palace as not before 1851–1842 BCE (68.2% hpd; the 95.4% hpd is 1855–1839 BCE):. In combination with the many Assyrian objects found here, this dating shows that only middle or low-middle chronology are the only remaining possible chronologies that fit these new data.” ref


Shimao is a site in Shenmu County, Shaanxi, China. The site is located in the northern part of the Loess Plateau, on the southern edge of the Ordos Desert. It is dated to around 2000 BCE, near the end of the Longshan period, and is the largest known walled site of that period in China, at 400 ha. The fortifications of Shimao were originally believed by to be a section of the Great Wall of China, but the discovery of jade pieces prompted an archaeological investigation. The city was surrounded by inner and outer stone walls, in contrast to the rammed earth walls typical of Longshan sites in the Central Plain and Shandong. The walls were 2.5 meters thick on average, with perimeters of approximately 4200 m and 5700 m respectively, and feature gates, turrets, and watchtowers.” ref

“The earliest site, the “palace center”, was a large stepped pyramid based on a loess hill which had been reworked to make 11 platforms, with a height of 70m. Each of these was reinforced by stone buttresses. At the top of this pyramid palaces of rammed earth were built. The inner city contained a stone-walled platform, interpreted as a palatial complex, and densely packed residential zones, cemeteries, and craft workshops. Unusual features include jade embedded in the city walls, possibly to provide spiritual protection, relief sculptures of serpents and monsters, and paintings of geometrical patterns on the inner walls. Approximately 80 human skulls were found under the city gate, mainly of young girls, suggesting ritual sacrifice.” ref

“Developments such as bronze working, wheat, barley, sheep, goats, and cattle seem to appear here earlier than elsewhere in China, showing that its inhabitants were communicating with Eurasian Steppe peoples across extensive trade networks. Additionally, materials likely from Southern China, such as alligator skin drums, have been found, indicating a north-south commerce across what is now modern China. Thin curved bones discovered at Shimao are believed to be the earliest known evidence of the jaw harp, an instrument that has spread to over 100 different ethnic groups, suggesting possible Chinese origins. The prevailing hypothesis concerning the abandonment of Shimao is tied to a rapid shift to a cooler, drier climate on the Loess Plateau, from 2000 to 1700 BCE. This environmental change likely led populations to shift to the Central Plain, leaving the site to be forgotten until the 21st century.” ref

Ancient Violence: China’s Only Female Emperor

“A “rubbing” of one of the epitaphs on the tomb of Yan Shiwei who helped China’s only female emperor rise to power. The epitaph describes part of the man’s life. You work for years, supporting the first female emperor to China and smoothing her rise to power. You break your own arm instead of fighting against her for a rebel army. You help her mollify civil disorder. And then your little brother goes rogue and gets you all executed.” ref

Empress regnant of the Zhou Dynasty

“Wu Zhao, commonly known as Wu Zetian (624 – 705 CE), alternatively Wu Hou, and during the later Tang dynasty as Tian Hou, was the de facto ruler of China, first through her husband the Emperor Gaozong and then through her sons the Emperors Zhongzong and Ruizong, from 665 to 690. She subsequently became empress regnant of the Zhou dynasty (周) of China, ruling from 690 to 705. She is notable for being the only female monarch in the history of China. Wu was the concubine of Emperor Taizong. After his death, she married his successor—his ninth son, Emperor Gaozong, officially becoming Gaozong’s huanghou (皇后, empress consort, title for the reigning emperor’s main consort) in 655, although having considerable political power prior to this. After Gaozong’s debilitating stroke in 660, Wu Zetian became administrator of the court, a position equal to the emperor’s until 705.” ref

Short History of China

“The Neolithic age in China can be traced back to about 10,000 BCE. The earliest evidence of cultivated rice, found by the Yangtze River, is carbon-dated to 8,000 years ago. Early evidence for proto-Chinese millet agriculture is radiocarbon-dated to about 7000 BCE. Farming gave rise to the Jiahu culture (7000 to 5800 BCE). At Damaidi in Ningxia, 3,172 cliff carvings dating to 6000–5000 BCE have been discovered, “featuring 8,453 individual characters such as the sun, moon, stars, gods, and scenes of hunting or grazing”.[attribution needed] These pictographs are reputed to be similar to the earliest characters confirmed to be written Chinese. Chinese proto-writing existed in Jiahu around 7000 BCE, Dadiwan from 5800 BC to 5400 BCE, Damaidi around 6000 BCE, and Banpo dating from the 5th millennium BCE. Some scholars have suggested that Jiahu symbols (7th millennium BCE) were the earliest Chinese writing system. Excavation of a Peiligang culture site in Xinzheng county, Henan, found a community that flourished in 5,500 to 4,900 BCE, with evidence of agriculture, constructed buildings, pottery, and burial of the dead. With agriculture came increased population, the ability to store and redistribute crops, and the potential to support specialist craftsmen and administrators. In late Neolithic times, the Yellow River valley began to establish itself as a center of Yangshao culture (5000 to 3000 BCE), and the first villages were founded; the most archaeologically significant of these was found at Banpo, Xi’an. Later, Yangshao culture was superseded by the Longshan culture, which was also centered on the Yellow River from about 3000 to 2000 BCE.” ref

Bronze Age

“Bronze artifacts have been found at the Majiayao culture site (between 3100 and 2700 BCE). The Bronze Age is also represented at the Lower Xiajiadian culture (2200–1600 BCE) site in northeast China. Sanxingdui located in what is now Sichuan province is believed to be the site of a major ancient city, of a previously unknown Bronze Age culture (between 2000 and 1200 BCE). The site was first discovered in 1929 and then re-discovered in 1986. Chinese archaeologists have identified the Sanxingdui culture to be part of the ancient kingdom of Shu, linking the artifacts found at the site to its early legendary kings.” ref

Ferrous metallurgy begins to appear in the late 6th century in the Yangzi Valley. A bronze tomahawk with a blade of meteoric iron excavated near the city of Gaocheng in Shijiazhuang (now Hebei province) has been dated to the 14th century BCE. For this reason, authors such as Liana Chua and Mark Elliott have used the term “Iron Age” by convention for the transitional period of c. 500 BC to 100 BCE, roughly corresponding to the Warring States period of Chinese historiography. An Iron Age culture of the Tibetan Plateau has tentatively been associated with the Zhang Zhung culture described in early Tibetan writings.” ref

“The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BCE, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BCE), during the king Wu Ding‘s reign, who was mentioned as the twenty-first Shang king by the same. Ancient historical texts such as the Book of Documents (early chapters, 11th century BCE), the Records of the Grand Historian (c. 100 BCE), and the Bamboo Annals (296 BCE) mention and describe a Xia dynasty (c. 2070–1600 BCE) before the Shang, but no writing is known from the period, and Shang writings do not indicate the existence of the Xia. The Shang ruled in the Yellow River valley, which is commonly held to be the cradle of Chinese civilization. However, Neolithic civilizations originated at various cultural centers along both the Yellow River and Yangtze River. These Yellow River and Yangtze civilizations arose millennia before the Shang. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world’s oldest civilizations and is regarded as one of the cradles of civilization.” ref

Ancient China

Xia dynasty (2070 – 1600 BCE)

Main article: Xia dynasty

“The Xia dynasty of China (from c. 2070 to c. 1600 BCE) is the first dynasty to be described in ancient historical records such as Sima Qian‘s Records of the Grand Historian and Bamboo Annals. The dynasty was considered mythical by historians until scientific excavations found early Bronze Age sites at Erlitou, Henan in 1959. With few clear records matching the Shang oracle bones, it remains unclear whether these sites are the remains of the Xia dynasty or of another culture from the same period. Excavations that overlap the alleged time period of the Xia indicate a type of culturally similar groupings of chiefdoms. Early markings from this period found on pottery and shells are thought to be ancestral to modern Chinese characters. According to ancient records, the dynasty ended around 1600 BCE as a consequence of the Battle of Mingtiao.” ref

Shang dynasty (1600 – 1046 BCE)

Main article: Shang dynasty

Further information: Chinese Bronze Age

“Archaeological findings providing evidence for the existence of the Shang dynasty, c. 1600–1046 BC, are divided into two sets. The first set, from the earlier Shang period, comes from sources at Erligang, Zhengzhou, and Shangcheng. The second set, from the later Shang or Yin (殷) period, is at Anyang, in modern-day Henan, which has been confirmed as the last of the Shang’s nine capitals (c. 1300–1046 BCE). The findings at Anyang include the earliest written record of the Chinese so far discovered: inscriptions of divination records in ancient Chinese writing on the bones or shells of animals—the “oracle bones“, dating from around 1250 BC. A series of thirty-one kings reigned over the Shang dynasty. During their reign, according to the Records of the Grand Historian, the capital city was moved six times. The final (and most important) move was to Yin in around 1300 BCE which led to the dynasty’s golden age. The term Yin dynasty has been synonymous with the Shang dynasty in history, although it has lately been used to refer specifically to the latter half of the Shang dynasty.” ref

“Chinese historians in later periods were accustomed to the notion of one dynasty succeeding another, but the political situation in early China was much more complicated. Hence, as some scholars of China suggest, the Xia and the Shang can refer to political entities that existed concurrently, just as the early Zhou existed at the same time as the Shang. Although written records found at Anyang confirm the existence of the Shang dynasty, Western scholars are often hesitant to associate settlements that are contemporaneous with the Anyang settlement with the Shang dynasty. For example, archaeological findings at Sanxingdui suggest a technologically advanced civilization culturally unlike Anyang. The evidence is inconclusive in proving how far the Shang realm extended from Anyang. The leading hypothesis is that Anyang, ruled by the same Shang in the official history, coexisted and traded with numerous other culturally diverse settlements in the area that is now referred to as China proper.” ref

Zhou dynasty (1046 – 256 BCE)

Main articles: Zhou dynasty and Iron Age China

“The Zhou dynasty (1046–256 BCE) supplanted the Shang, and introduced the concept of the Mandate of Heaven to justify their rule. The central Zhou government began to weaken due to external and internal pressures in the 8th century BC, and the country eventually splintered into smaller states during the Spring and Autumn period. These states became independent and fought with one another in the following Warring States period. Much of traditional Chinese culture, literature, and philosophy first developed during those troubled times. The Zhou dynasty is the longest-lasting dynasty in Chinese history. By the end of the 2nd millennium BC, the Zhou dynasty began to emerge in the Yellow River valley, overrunning the territory of the Shang. The Zhou appeared to have begun their rule under a semi-feudal system. The Zhou lived west of the Shang, and the Zhou leader was appointed Western Protector by the Shang. The ruler of the Zhou, King Wu, with the assistance of his brother, the Duke of Zhou, as regent, managed to defeat the Shang at the Battle of Muye.” ref

“The king of Zhou at this time invoked the concept of the Mandate of Heaven to legitimize his rule, a concept that was influential for almost every succeeding dynasty. Like Shangdi, Heaven (tian) ruled over all the other gods, and it decided who would rule China. It was believed that a ruler lost the Mandate of Heaven when natural disasters occurred in great number, and when, more realistically, the sovereign had apparently lost his concern for the people. In response, the royal house would be overthrown, and a new house would rule, having been granted the Mandate of Heaven. The Zhou initially moved their capital west to an area near modern Xi’an, on the Wei River, a tributary of the Yellow River, but they would preside over a series of expansions into the Yangtze River valley. This would be the first of many population migrations from north to south in Chinese history.” ref

“In 221 BCE, Qin Shi Huang conquered the various warring states and created for himself the title of Huangdi or “emperor” of the Qin, marking the beginning of imperial China. However, the oppressive government fell soon after his death, and was supplanted by the longer-lived Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE). Successive dynasties developed bureaucratic systems that enabled the emperor to control vast territories directly. In the 21 centuries from 206 BCE until CE 1912, routine administrative tasks were handled by a special elite of scholar-officials. Young men, well-versed in calligraphy, history, literature, and philosophy, were carefully selected through difficult government examinations. China’s last dynasty was the Qing (1644–1912), which was replaced by the Republic of China in 1912, and then in the mainland by the People’s Republic of China in 1949. The Republic of China retreated to Taiwan in 1949.” ref

“Chinese history has alternated between periods of political unity and peace, and periods of war and failed statehood—the most recent being the Chinese Civil War (1927–1949). China was occasionally dominated by steppe peoples, most of whom were eventually assimilated into the Han Chinese culture and population. Between eras of multiple kingdoms and warlordism, Chinese dynasties have ruled parts or all of China; in some eras control stretched as far as Xinjiang and Tibet, as at present. Traditional culture, and influences from other parts of Asia and the Western world (carried by waves of immigration, cultural assimilation, expansion, and foreign contact), form the basis of the modern culture of China.” ref

800-year-old moccasin connects Dene migrants to the American southwest

“Bison leather suggests 13th century Dene migrants traveled near Apache, Navajo homelands. Jessica Metcalfe, an assistant professor of anthropology at Lakehead University, used data based on the archeological remains of bison to determine that an ankle strap used on a 13th-century moccasin found in Utah came from an animal that lived much further south. New research on a trove of 13th-century moccasins is shedding light on how the Dene language may have spread across North America. The distinctly subarctic Dene moccasins were discovered in the Promontory Caves in Utah nearly 100 years ago. They’re believed to be evidence that some Dene people left northwestern North America and successfully resettled in what is now the American southwest. Dry conditions in the cave preserved what would usually be perishable goods, including about 350 moccasins and thousands of animal bones. Most of the moccasins were made from locally gathered materials, but recent chemical analysis found one outlier: an ankle tie that came from a bison believed to have lived 700 to 800 kilometers further south. The most complete moccasin of some 250 found in a cave in southern Utah. Its bison fur lining and ankle wrap is still attached.” ref

“Jessica Metcalfe, an assistant professor of anthropology at Lakehead University, used data based on the archeological remains of other ancient bison to determine that the animal lived off plants that would have only grown in a much warmer climate. Further chemical analysis ruled out the idea that the bison wandered north, or that the leather was obtained through trade. She believes the leather shows that the people who lived in the cave were traveling long distances and returning, “probably for the purpose of scouting.” Metcalfe says this is “the first time past human migrations have been reconstructed using chemical traces in footwear.” Her analysis, published earlier this month in the journal American Antiquity, puts the subarctic Dene group closer to the homelands of the Navajo and Apache than has previously been documented.” ref

Shared history

“Dene languages, also known as the Athapaskan languages, are one of the most widespread indigenous languages in North America, but there is little in the archeological record that explains how the languages spread, and why there are two distinct groupings nearly two-thousand kilometers apart. Raymond Yakeleya is a Dene filmmaker and storyteller based in Edmonton. In 2019, he took part in a Dene reunification conference in Calgary to try to better understand the shared connections. “It’s been kind of like a big search and I’ve been fortunate enough to meet other people who’ve been on the same search as myself and we try to understand what our own elders went through to get us here,” Yakeleya said. “One of the biggest questions that the white man has always had is how did North America get settled, right? And it was settled by us and so that’s why I’m saying that we’re the ones that have the answers.” ref

“Jack Ives is a professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alberta and one of the authors of the paper. He’s studied the caves as a waypoint for the Dene people who eventually became the Navajo and Apache people. He says the find is a clue establishing an important point of possible pre-colonial contact between the two groups, as well as just human behavior that makes sense for any migrants. “When people decide to live in a different place, they usually have some information or knowledge about it, and they may hear that from others or from relatives who’ve already migrated there. But the other human behavior that goes with that is scouting,” he said. Ives said many archeological facts can tell us about Indigenous life in the past, but few speak to identity quite so closely as the clothing and footwear preserved in the caves. “You can see the imprint of a person’s foot on them,” he said. “Some of them are tiny children’s moccasins; they would fit in your palm. And, you know, as a human being, you sense another human being when you’re near these things. So they’re quite powerful.” ref

History of violence?

“The findings also confirm that before the Paleo-Eskimo culture suddenly disappeared around 700 years ago, there was no mixing between those communities and the Inuit ancestors, who arose from a second, distinct Siberian migration.” ref

Ancient Maya houses show wealth inequality tied to despotic governance

“Every society has some degree of wealth inequality  ̶  over history, across continents, there always seem to be some people who have more than others. But the amount of inequality differs  ̶  in some civilizations, a few powerful people have nearly all the wealth, whereas in others, it’s more spread out. In a new study in PLOS ONE, University of New Mexico alumna Amy Thompson, who graduated with a Ph.D. in Anthropology in 2019, and UNM Anthropology department professor Keith Prufer report on their findings after examining the remains of houses in ancient Maya cities and comparing them with other Mesoamerican societies. They found that the societies with the most wealth inequality were also the ones that had governments that concentrated power with a smaller number of people.” ref

“Differences in house size are a reflection of wealth inequality,” said Thompson, who is now a postdoctoral researcher at Chicago’s Field Museum, new assistant professor at University of Texas at Austin, and corresponding author of the PLOS ONE study. “By looking at how house size varies within different neighborhoods within ancient cities, we can learn about wealth inequality in Classic Maya cities.” There are millions of Maya people alive today, but the period that archaeologists refer to as the Classic Maya civilization dates to 250-900 CE. Classic Maya society stretched across what is now eastern Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, Guatemala, Belize, and western El Salvador and Honduras, and it was composed of a network of independent cities. “Rather than being like the United States today where we have one central government overseeing all the states, Classic Maya civilization was a series of cities that each had its own independent ruler,” Thompson said. Across Mesoamerica, these political systems varied  ̶  some shared power more collectively, while others were more autocratic and concentrated power in a smaller group of individuals. Archaeologists use a variety of clues to infer how autocratic a state was.” ref

“We look at the way they represented their leadership. In burials, are certain individuals treated completely differently from everyone else, or are the differences more muted?” said Keith Prufer, an author of the UNM study. “Another key is to look at palaces. When you have very centralized palace buildings or funerary temples dedicated to a ruling lineage, the government tends to be more autocratic. In societies that were less autocratic, it’s harder to determine where rulers lived or even who they were.” In this study, the researchers wanted to know how the governmental structure affected the distribution of wealth among the people. They note that in more autocratic societies wealth inequality is pronounced between different social groups, and also between people living in the same neighborhoods who were previously assumed by archaeologists to be economic equals. Much of this inequality is linked to access to market goods or trade networks.  To learn about how wealth was dispersed across the community, they analyzed the remains of ancient houses.” ref

“Factors like house size don’t give an absolute picture of wealth  ̶  or instance, a one-bedroom apartment off Central Park might be worth more than a two-bedroom in Queens, or a whole house in rural Kansas. “Everything is looked at in a relative sense,” says Gary Feinman, the Field Museum’s MacArthur curator of anthropology and a co-author of the paper. “We’re comparing houses within a neighborhood to each other, and it still reveals a pattern. It would be like if you compared all the houses in Kansas, some might be bigger than the houses in Manhattan, but that relative pattern of wealth distribution in Kansas, as compared to Manhattan, would still tell you something about wealth differentials in both areas.” ref

To study Maya houses, the researchers looked at a number of variables beyond just size.

“Using household archaeology, we can get at the interactions and relationships between the people,” says Thompson. “We document where these houses are on the landscape, how big they are, where they’re located in relationship to each other, and which resources  ̶  like water and good agricultural land  ̶  are nearby.” For further clues about the distribution of wealth, the researchers also excavated houses to learn about the types of ceramics and stone tools that the people used. The researchers found that patterns of wealth inequality were fairly consistent in different neighborhoods within two Classic Maya cities in southern Belize  ̶  even if one neighborhood was richer overall than another. Nevertheless, at both sites distinctions in wealth were most magnified in neighborhoods with access to exchange routes. “People have known for decades, more than a century, that the Classic Maya were unequal,” Prufer said. “But the real thing we can add is that this inequality trickled down, even to neighborhoods. That hasn’t really been well documented before.” ref

The link between wealth inequality and autocracy isn’t exclusive to the Classic Maya, the researchers note.

“We’re really trying to get at some of these very real issues of how inequality forms, how it’s perpetuated, and how it manifests in early cities,” Prufer explained. “One of the larger goals within archaeology is to try to show that modern societies and ancient societies are, in their fundamental elements, not that much different from each other. There’s a lot of similarities that reflect human behavior and human ingenuity and also manifestations of human inequality and cruelty on different levels. This comes through from these types of studies, and we feel really good to be able to contribute our work to these broader discussions of social inequality, which are so, so important today.” And while inequality has plagued humanity for millennia, Feinman says that we’re not doomed as a species. “There’s a tight interconnection between how power is funded and how power is wielded and monopolized,” he said. “People can and do establish institutions that try to check power, but it takes work, and it takes interpersonal interdependence and the recognition that we cooperate with  communities of people beyond just one’s self and one’s family.” ref

Ancient Maya Ambassador’s Bones Show Life of Privilege and Hardship

“An important Maya man buried nearly 1,300 years ago led a privileged yet difficult life. The man, a diplomat named Ajpach’ Waal, suffered malnutrition or illness as a child, but as an adult he helped negotiate an alliance between two powerful dynasties that ultimately failed. The ensuing political instability left him in reduced economic circumstances, and he probably died in relative obscurity. During excavations at El Palmar, a small plaza compound in Mexico near the borders of Belize and Guatemala, archaeologists led by Kenichiro Tsukamoto, an assistant professor of anthropology at UC Riverside, discovered a hieroglyph-adorned stairway leading up to a ceremonial platform. When deciphered, the hieroglyphs revealed that in June, 726 CE, Ajpach’ Waal traveled and met the king of Copán, 350 miles away in Honduras, to forge an alliance with the king of Calakmul, near El Palmar.” ref

“The findings, published in the journal Latin American Antiquity, shed light on the role communities peripheral to major centers played in cementing connections between royal families during the Late Classic period (600-800 CE), and the ways they might suffer when something shattered those alliances. The inscriptions identified Ajpach’ Waal as a “lakam,” or standard-bearer, an ambassador that carried a banner as they walked on diplomatic missions between cities. He inherited this lofty position through his father’s lineage, and his mother also came from an elite family. Ajpach’ Waal must have considered this his crowning achievement because the hieroglyphs indicate he was not given the platform by El Palmar’s ruler, but had it built it for himself a few months after the mission in September, 726 CE. The platform served as a sort of theatrical stage where spectacular rituals were performed for an audience, with only influential people able to build their own.” ref

“Beneath the floor of a temple next to the platform, Tsukamoto discovered the undisturbed burial of a male skeleton in a small chamber. Though interred in a location that suggested ownership of the platform and temple, unlike other elite Maya burials, only two colorfully decorated clay pots — no jewelry or other grave goods — had accompanied this individual into the underworld. In the new paper, Tsukamoto and Jessica I. Cerezo-Roma, an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Oklahoma, study the bones of the person buried in this puzzling tomb to tell his story.” ref

“His life is not like we expected based on the hieroglyphics,” Tsukamoto said. “Many people say that the elite enjoyed their lives, but the story is usually more complex.” The man was between 35 and 50 years old when he died. Several dating methods, including radiocarbon, stratigraphy, and ceramic typology, suggest the burial occurred around 726, when the stairway was constructed. The high status of the individual combined with proximity to the stairway lead the authors to believe that this was probably Ajpach’ Waal himself, or possibly his father. All his upper front teeth, from right canine to left, had been drilled to hold decorative implants of pyrite and jade, which was valuable and highly regulated. Maya living in geographic areas associated with ruling elites underwent this painful procedure during puberty as a rite of passage to mark their inclusion within a high office or social group. Ajpach’ Waal might have received such implants when he inherited his father’s title.” ref

“The skull had been mildly flattened in back from prolonged contact with something flat during infancy, which the Maya believed made a person more attractive. Because the front of the cranium was not preserved, the archaeologists could not tell if the forehead had been similarly flattened, a beautification practice limited to royalty. Other aspects of the bones belied the privilege displayed by the dental and cranial modifications. Some of his arm bones had healed periostitis, caused by bacterial infections, trauma, scurvy, or rickets, which would have made his arm ache until the condition improved. Both sides of the skull had slightly porous, spongy areas known as porotic hyperostosis, caused by childhood nutritional deficiencies or illnesses. The condition is relatively common in burials throughout the Maya world, suggesting Ajpach’ Waal’s high status couldn’t shield him from malnutrition and disease.” ref

“A healed fracture on his right tibia, or shinbone, resembles fractures seen in modern athletes who play contact sports such as football, rugby, or soccer. This could indicate he played some of the ballgames depicted on the stairway, strengthening the case that this was Ajpach’ Waal. Long before he died, the individual had lost many teeth on the left side of his lower jaw due to gum disease and might have had a painful abscess on his lower right premolar, all of which would have restricted his diet to soft foods. One inlaid tooth had thickened near the root in response to the injury of drilling and could have ached. He also developed arthritis in his hands, right elbow, left knee, left ankle, and feet as he aged, which would have caused stiffness and pain, especially in the morning. Tsukamoto and Cerezo-Roma suggest that his arthritis might have been caused by carrying a banner on a pole for long distances over rugged terrain and walking and up and down stairways. He would have also been required to kneel on the platforms of Maya rulers.” ref

As if these maladies weren’t enough, fate conspired to change Ajpach’ Waal’s fortunes.

“The ruler of a subordinate dynasty decapitated Copán’s king 10 years after his alliance with Calakmul, which was also defeated by a rival dynasty around the same time,” Tsukamoto said. “We see the political and economic instability that followed both these events in the sparse burial and in one of the inlaid teeth.” The archaeologists determined that the inlay in Ajpach’ Waal’s right canine tooth had fallen out and was not replaced before his death because dental plaque had hardened into calculus in the cavity. The hole, easily visible when the man smiled or spoke, would have been an embarrassing, public admission of hardship or El Palmar’s reduced significance. This also would have made him a less useful emissary if he still occupied the role. Though people continued living at El Palmar for some time after Ajpach’ Waal’s death, it was eventually abandoned and reclaimed by the jungle.” ref


“A macuahuitl ([maːˈkʷawit͡ɬ]) is a weapon, a wooden club with several embedded obsidian blades. The name is derived from the Nahuatl language and means “hand-wood”. Its sides are embedded with prismatic blades traditionally made from obsidian. Obsidian is capable of producing an edge sharper than high-quality steel razor blades. The maquahuitl predates the Aztecs. Tools made from obsidian fragments were used by some of the earliest Mesoamericans. Obsidian used in ceramic vessels has been found at Aztec sites. Obsidian cutting knives, sickles, scrapers, drills, razors, and arrow points have also been found. Several obsidian mines were close to the Aztec civilizations in the Valley of Mexico as well as in the mountains north of the valley. Among these were the Sierra de las Navajas (Razor Mountains), named after their obsidian deposits. The use of the maquahuitl as a weapon is attested from the 1st millennia CE. A Mayan carving at Chichen Itza shows a warrior holding a macuahuitl, depicted as a club having separate blades sticking out from each side.” ref

“The macuahuitl was a standard close combat weapon. The use of the macuahuitl as a weapon is attested from the first millennium CE. By the time of the Spanish conquest, the macuahuitl was widely distributed in Mesoamerica. The weapon was used by different civilizations including the Aztec (Mexicas), Maya, Mixtec, and Toltec. One example of this weapon survived the Conquest of Mexico; it was part of the Royal Armoury of Madrid until it was destroyed by a fire in 1884. Images of the original designs survive in diverse catalogs. The oldest replica is the macuahuitl created by the medievalist Achille Jubinal in the 19th century. In a mural, a warrior holds a club with many blades on one side and one sharp point on the other, also a possible variant of the macuahuitl. By the time of the Spanish conquest, the macuahuitl was widely distributed in Mesoamerica, with records of its use by the Aztecs, Mixtecs, Tarascans, Toltecs, and others. It was also commonly used by the Indian auxiliaries of Spain, though they favored Spanish swords. As Mesoamericans in Spanish service needed a special permission to carry European arms, metal swords brought Indian auxiliaries more prestige than maquahuitls in the eyes of Europeans as well as natives.” ref

Haplogroup C-M217

“Haplogroup C-M217, also known as C2 (and previously as C3), is a Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup. It is the most frequently occurring branch of the wider Haplogroup C (M130). It is found mostly in Central Asia, Eastern Siberia and significant frequencies in parts of East Asia and Southeast Asia including some populations in the Caucasus, Middle East, South Asia. It is found in a much more widespread areas with a low frequency of less than 2%. The haplogroup C-M217 is now found at high frequencies among Central Asian peoples, indigenous Siberians, and some Native peoples of North America. In particular, males belonging to peoples such as the Buryats, Evens, Evenks, Itelmens, Kalmyks, Kazakhs, Koryaks, Mongolians, Negidals, Nivkhs, Udege, and Ulchi have high levels of M217.” ref

“One particular haplotype within Haplogroup C2-M217 has received a great deal of attention, because of the possibility that it may represent direct patrilineal descent from Genghis Khan, though that hypothesis is controversial. According to the recent result, C2’s subgroups are divided into C2b and C2e, and in Mongolia, most belong to C2b(Genghis Khan modal), while very few are C2e. On the other hand, C2b takes minority and most are C2e in Japan and Korea, and Southern East Asia. The specific subclade Haplogroup C3b2b1*-M401(xF5483) of the broader C-M48 subclade, which has been identified as a possible marker of the Manchu Aisin Gioro and has been found in ten different ethnic minorities in northern China, is totally absent from all Han Chinese populations (Heilongjiang, Gansu, Guangdong, Sichuan, and Xinjiang).” ref

Ancient Genomes Trace The Origin And Decline Of The Scythians

“Generally thought of as fierce horse warriors, the Scythians were a multitude of Iron Age cultures who ruled the Eurasian steppe, playing a major role in Eurasian history. A new study published in Science Advances analyzes genome-wide data for 111 ancient individuals spanning the Central Asian Steppe from the first millennia BCE and CE. The results reveal new insights into the genetic events associated with the origins, development, and decline of the steppe’s legendary Scythians. Because of their interactions and conflicts with the major contemporaneous civilizations of Eurasia, the Scythians enjoy a legendary status in historiography and popular culture. The Scythians had major influences on the cultures of their powerful neighbors, spreading new technologies such as saddles and other improvements for horse riding.” ref

“The ancient Greek, Roman, Persian, and Chinese empires all left a multitude of sources describing, from their perspectives, the customs, and practices of the feared horse warriors that came from the interior lands of Eurasia. Still, despite evidence from external sources, little is known about Scythian history. Without a written language or direct sources, the language or languages they spoke, where they came from, and the extent to which the various cultures spread across such a huge area were in fact related to one another, remain unclear.” ref

The Iron Age transition and the formation of the genetic profile of the Scythians

“A new study published in Science Advances by an international team of geneticists, anthropologists, and archeologists lead by scientists from the Archaeogenetics Department of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, helps illuminate the history of the Scythians with 111 ancient genomes from key Scythian and non-Scythian archaeological cultures of the Central Asian steppe. The results of this study reveal that substantial genetic turnovers were associated with the decline of the long-lasting Bronze Age sedentary groups and the rise of Scythian nomad cultures in the Iron Age. Their findings show that, following the relatively homogenous ancestry of the late Bronze Age herders, at the turn of the first millennium BCE, influxes from the east, west, and south into the steppe formed new admixed gene pools.” ref

The diverse peoples of the Central Asian Steppe

“The study goes even further, identifying at least two main sources of origin for the nomadic Iron Age groups. An eastern source likely originated from populations in the Altai Mountains that, during the course of the Iron Age, spread west and south, admixing as they moved. These genetic results match with the timing and locations found in the archeological record and suggest an expansion of populations from the Altai area, where the earliest Scythian burials are found, connecting different renowned cultures such as the Saka, the Tasmola, and the Pazyryk found in southern, central and eastern Kazakhstan respectively. Surprisingly, the groups located in the western Ural Mountains descend from a second separate, but simultaneous source. Contrary to the eastern case, this western gene pool, characteristic of the early Sauromatian-Sarmatian cultures, remained largely consistent through the westward spread of the Sarmatian cultures from the Urals into the Pontic-Caspian steppe.” ref

The decline of the Scythian cultures associated with new genetic turnovers

“The study also covers the transition period after the Iron Age, revealing new genetic turnovers and admixture events. These events intensified at the turn of the first millennium CE, concurrent with the decline and then disappearance of the Scythian cultures in the Central Steppe. In this case, the new far eastern Eurasian influx is plausibly associated with the spread of the nomad empires of the Eastern steppe in the first centuries CE, such as the Xiongnu and Xianbei confederations, as well as minor influxes from Iranian sources likely linked to the expansion of Persian-related civilization from the south.” ref

“Although many of the open questions on the history of the Scythians cannot be solved by ancient DNA alone, this study demonstrates how much the populations of Eurasia have changed and intermixed through time. Future studies should continue to explore the dynamics of these trans-Eurasian connections by covering different periods and geographic regions, revealing the history of connections between west, central and east Eurasia in the remote past and their genetic legacy in present-day Eurasian populations.” ref

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art


Animism: Respecting the Living World by Graham Harvey 

“How have human cultures engaged with and thought about animals, plants, rocks, clouds, and other elements in their natural surroundings? Do animals and other natural objects have a spirit or soul? What is their relationship to humans? In this new study, Graham Harvey explores current and past animistic beliefs and practices of Native Americans, Maori, Aboriginal Australians, and eco-pagans. He considers the varieties of animism found in these cultures as well as their shared desire to live respectfully within larger natural communities. Drawing on his extensive casework, Harvey also considers the linguistic, performative, ecological, and activist implications of these different animisms.” ref

My thoughts on Religion Evolution with external links for more info:

“Religion is an Evolved Product” and Yes, Religion is Like Fear Given Wings…

Atheists talk about gods and religions for the same reason doctors talk about cancer, they are looking for a cure, or a firefighter talks about fires because they burn people and they care to stop them. We atheists too often feel a need to help the victims of mental slavery, held in the bondage that is the false beliefs of gods and the conspiracy theories of reality found in religions.

“Understanding Religion Evolution: Animism, Totemism, Shamanism, Paganism & Progressed organized religion”

Understanding Religion Evolution:

“An Archaeological/Anthropological Understanding of Religion Evolution”

It seems ancient peoples had to survived amazing threats in a “dangerous universe (by superstition perceived as good and evil),” and human “immorality or imperfection of the soul” which was thought to affect the still living, leading to ancestor worship. This ancestor worship presumably led to the belief in supernatural beings, and then some of these were turned into the belief in gods. This feeble myth called gods were just a human conceived “made from nothing into something over and over, changing, again and again, taking on more as they evolve, all the while they are thought to be special,” but it is just supernatural animistic spirit-belief perceived as sacred.


Quick Evolution of Religion?

Pre-Animism (at least 300,000 years ago) pre-religion is a beginning that evolves into later Animism. So, Religion as we think of it, to me, all starts in a general way with Animism (Africa: 100,000 years ago) (theoretical belief in supernatural powers/spirits), then this is physically expressed in or with Totemism (Europe: 50,000 years ago) (theoretical belief in mythical relationship with powers/spirits through a totem item), which then enlists a full-time specific person to do this worship and believed interacting Shamanism (Siberia/Russia: 30,000 years ago) (theoretical belief in access and influence with spirits through ritual), and then there is the further employment of myths and gods added to all the above giving you Paganism (Turkey: 12,000 years ago) (often a lot more nature-based than most current top world religions, thus hinting to their close link to more ancient religious thinking it stems from). My hypothesis is expressed with an explanation of the building of a theatrical house (modern religions development). Progressed organized religion (Egypt: 5,000 years ago)  with CURRENT “World” RELIGIONS (after 4,000 years ago).

Historically, in large city-state societies (such as Egypt or Iraq) starting around 5,000 years ago culminated to make religion something kind of new, a sociocultural-governmental-religious monarchy, where all or at least many of the people of such large city-state societies seem familiar with and committed to the existence of “religion” as the integrated life identity package of control dynamics with a fixed closed magical doctrine, but this juggernaut integrated religion identity package of Dogmatic-Propaganda certainly did not exist or if developed to an extent it was highly limited in most smaller prehistoric societies as they seem to lack most of the strong control dynamics with a fixed closed magical doctrine (magical beliefs could be at times be added or removed). Many people just want to see developed religious dynamics everywhere even if it is not. Instead, all that is found is largely fragments until the domestication of religion.

Religions, as we think of them today, are a new fad, even if they go back to around 6,000 years in the timeline of human existence, this amounts to almost nothing when seen in the long slow evolution of religion at least around 70,000 years ago with one of the oldest ritual worship. Stone Snake of South Africa: “first human worship” 70,000 years ago. This message of how religion and gods among them are clearly a man-made thing that was developed slowly as it was invented and then implemented peace by peace discrediting them all. Which seems to be a simple point some are just not grasping how devastating to any claims of truth when we can see the lie clearly in the archeological sites.

I wish people fought as hard for the actual values as they fight for the group/clan names political or otherwise they think support values. Every amount spent on war is theft to children in need of food or the homeless kept from shelter.

Here are several of my blog posts on history: